AN ONLINE DISCUSSION ON THE FREE ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION
The Director of the Agency for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information, Plamenka Bojcheva, participated in an online debate on “Free Access to Public Information in the Time of Covid-19”. The Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers organised the discussion in partnership with the Macedonian Media Institute, the Institute for Communication Studies and the Media Diversity Institute from London within the project “News Literacy and Digital Literacy – Dealing with Fake News”, supported by the European Union. The discussion was held through the Zoom platform.
Journalists Hristina Belovska and Maja Jovanovska had their presentations at the debate, followed by a discussion that included several media representatives as participants.
Addressing the participants, Bojcheva, among other things, emphasized that there are upcoming activities aimed at improving and specifying specific legal provisions with the aim of faster, more straightforward and more efficient implementation of the Law and in the function of further affirmation of the constitutionally guaranteed right to free access to public information.
To the journalist’s remark that the 20-day deadline stipulated in the Law is too long for media representatives, and especially for journalists who deal with daily journalism, Bojcheva said that it is not excluded the possibility that in the debates on amendments and additions to the legislation the proposed staggered deadline for responding to requests.
Additionally, Bojcheva pointed out that the media also have at their disposal the oral request for which the response deadline is five days, but as she pointed out, it is used less often.
Furthermore, Bojcheva mentioned that the institutions could appoint more officials who would provide public information. Hence, there are no excuses for not acting upon requests or for using the pandemic to avoid answers to submitted requests for access to public information.