WITH PROACTIVE TRANSPARENCY TO WELL-INFORMED CITIZENS
Plamenka Bojcheva, director of the Agency for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information, addressed the participants during the panel session on “Ethics and Anonymization of Data” attending the International Open Data Conference in Skopje, held from 18th to 20th May 2022. “Data and the Culture of Openness” was the theme of this year’s conference.
In the opening address, director Bojcheva emphasized that “when the holders of public information are open to the public, citizens find out what and how the state government bodies and other establishments and institutions work.” This enables them to participate equally in public life and continuously control the work of the authorities”.
She also added that “the public’s right to know is part of the corpus of fundamental human rights in the modern world. One of the cornerstones of modern democracies is unrestricted access to information, making this right impossible to imagine a democracy without it.
Furthermore, the Law on Free Access to Public Information primarily regulates the mechanisms by which the public can request information from the holders of public information and ensures publicity and openness in the operations of the holders. It also gives natural and legal persons the right to free access to public information”.
In addition, director Bojcheva gave special attention to proactive transparency, which derives from Article 10 of the Law, where 22 categories of information are exhaustively listed, which the holders are obliged to publish on their websites. With the proactive publication of public information, the legal obligation is clearly established for the holders not only to respond to the submitted requests in relation to the Law on Free Access to Public Information but also to publish the public information on their websites, including information that has not been requested.
The proactive publication of public information is an integral part of the right to access to public information, ensuring that the key information is available in a timely manner. A major advantage of proactively releasing public information, especially when it is done immediately, is that it makes it more difficult for information holders to deny the existence of the information or manipulate it.
Bojcheva also referred to the results of the monitoring of the websites of the information holders of the municipalities and public enterprises and institutions under the jurisdiction of the municipalities, carried out by the Agency. In particular, Bojcheva pointed out Valandovo and Demir Hisar municipalities as good examples that publish their information through a proactive approach.