UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO INFORMATION (IDUAI), SEPTEMBER 28TH
Today, the Agency for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information marked September 28th as the International Day for Universal Access to Information with a hybrid event.
In the presence of selected guests, including Frejk Janmaat – Head of Department at the Delegation of the European Union and Mr. Ljupcho Nikolovski – Deputy Prime Minister of the Government for the fight against corruption and crime, sustainable development and human resources, the results of the Agency’s work over the past year, the created IT tools, and the plans for the future advancement of the democratic processes in our country by enabling a unified platform were presented.
“This year, the Agency addressed all 639 complaints received. I’d hereby like to highlight the Agency’s most significant accomplishment. Namely, the percentage of complaints filed about the administration’s silence has been cut in half for the first time in 15 years since the law was enforced. What does this imply? In previous years, the percentage of holders who did not act within the legally mandated time frame ranging from 70 to 80 percent.”
“This year, however, the percentage has dropped to 37 percent, indicating that the holders act and respond to the applicant’s requests. I am pleased to conclude that the Agency has established itself as an institution that not only significantly improves the availability of public information in our country but also works to increase the awareness and education of citizens regarding the exercise of this right and is also a significant partner in the improvement of the institutions’ transparency”, – stated Plamenka Bojcheva, director of the Agency for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information.”
“Aside from the Agency’s Strategic Plan, there are several manuals and brochures, digital tools, and a campaign titled “Promoting Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration” underway within the framework of the IPA 2 project.”
“The video content that I’m sure you’ve come across on social media with the hashtag “I want to know” aims to inform, educate, and raise citizens’ awareness about exercising their right to access public information, through which citizens will gain insight into the work of the institutions and therefore will stimulate transparency in the performance of their activities”, director Bojcheva elaborated.
Continuously collaborating with the Agency, the European Union Delegation strives to achieve the stringent EU standards for a transparent and democratic society. “The project’s goal is to assist state institutions in developing a holistic and systematic approach to transparency and accountability. This applies to specific institutions and all members of society, including the government, central and local government, the economic system, civil society, the media, and citizens. Transparency and accountability are crucial in reducing corruption and strengthening integrity,” – said Freek Janmaat, head of the department at the European Union Delegation.
Ljupco Nikolovski, deputy prime minister for the fight against corruption and crime, sustainable development, and human resources, emphasized that the willingness and investments of all state authorities are crucial to harmonising with EU regulations for transparency and accountability.
“Over the last four years, the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia has implemented numerous measures and activities to increase transparency and accountability, not only of the government but also of all establishments, to open the institutions and increase citizens’ trust in them. The proactive publication of information by the government and the simplification of administrative procedures are additional ways to promote transparency that go beyond traditional methods of accessing public information. This is a government that prioritizes the fight against corruption. And when we talk about a broad front in combating corruption and crime, transparency is unavoidable. It’s half of the battle”, asserted Nikolovski.
At the event, Aleksandar Kashumov, a key expert within the framework of the IPA 2 Promoting Transparency and Responsibility in Public Administration project, delivered his speech, saying: “I am particularly glad and honoured to work closely with the Agency to strengthen its capacities for the advancement of the law as a powerful tool for citizens, government transparency, and corruption prevention”.
Additionally, digital tools that modernize and facilitate access to public information were presented at the event.
“Modernized IT tools have been developed and implemented to improve the Agency’s operational capacity and provide better services to applicants and holders of public information. There are two different e-platforms, one for the applicants (www.slobodenpristap.mk), and the other for those who hold public information”, observed the professor during his address. Boro Jakimovski is a key expert in the IPA2 project promoting transparency and accountability in public administration.
The Republic of North Macedonia passed its first Law on Free Access to Public Information in 2006, and this year marks the second annual International Day for Universal Access to Information, which the Agency is hosting for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information.