1. To whom should I address my request for access to public information, and how should I submit it?

Answer: The request should be submitted to the individual or organization that developed or possesses the requested information. The applicant can submit written and electronic requests for access to the information. In addition, the information seeker must indicate the methods of future contact with the holder of the public information (verbally, in written form, or in electronic form).

If the requester submits the written request directly to the information holder, they should receive a copy of the request with a date-stamped receipt from the information holder.

When the request is filed in writing and mailed, it is recommended that it is delivered via registered mail. In this case, the delivery will be valid if the recipient, i.e. the holder of information, signs a receipt acknowledging the receiving of the request and the date it was received, and the postal service will return it to the sender (i.e. requester of public information).

The specified delivery method is important for both the requester and the holder of information since the deadline for acting upon the request commences on the day it is delivered. If the request is submitted online, the information holder must print and file the document in the archive. The request continues to be processed as if it had been submitted in writing.

2. Is the information created by the holder of the information in the performance of his legal responsibilities and for the provision of the information in accordance with the law and/or by-law (regulations, tariff list, price list, etc.) subject to monetary compensation, and whether it can be subject to a request for free access to the information?

Answer: Information/documents created by the Holder of information and for the issuance of which it is determined that the requester should pay a certain monetary compensation cannot be a subject of a request for free access to public information. They are not public information but rather services that the institution in question provides, within its competencies, to legal or natural persons who have a personal interest in exercising a specific right or receiving a specific service under a special law.

Such services include, for example, extracts from the RNM Central Registry’s registers, extracts from the Detailed Urban Plan (DUP) issued by units of local self-government, certificates and extracts and other documents issued by the Real Estate Cadastre Agency, data from the Electronic Health Administration’s integrated health information system, and others.

 3. Is it mandatory to submit the request for access to public information on the form specified by the Agency?

Answer: As a general rule, applicants should submit their requests on the Access to Public Information Form, which is enacted by the Director of the Agency for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information.

The Requester, however, is not obligated to submit the request for access to public information in the specified format. You can also submit your request in writing by listing the information required by Article 16 of the Law on Free Access to Public Information alongside a statement explaining that you are making your request in accordance with this law.


4. How do officials respond when they receive requests that are incomplete, unclear, or incomprehensible?

Answer: If the Request for access to public information is incomplete, i.e. it lacks any of the necessary elements for the holder to act on it, the holder is required to ask the requester to supplement, clarify, i.e. to specify the Request, indicating the consequences if they do not do so within three days of receiving the notification.

If the requester does not complete and specifies the request for access to public information within the specified time frame, the Holder of the information has the option to reject the request. This decision is subject to an appeal to the Agency.

When the Request for access to public information does not comply with the requirements of Article 16 of the Law, even after the amendment, the procedure remains the same because the holder of the information cannot take any action because the Request lacks any of the essential elements that make up its form.


5. What are the grounds for denying requests for access to public information?

Answer: Holders of information may refuse access to information in the instances set out in Article 6, paragraph 1 of the Law on Free Access to Public Information, namely if the requested information relates to:

1. Information that, according to the law, is classified with a pertinent level of classification;

2. Private data, the disclosure of which would constitute a breach of the policy governing the privacy of personal information;

3. Information, the disclosure of which would constitute a breach of the tax procedure’s confidentiality;

4. Information obtained or compiled for the purposes of an investigation, criminal or misdemeanor proceedings, or the conduct of administrative and civil proceedings, the disclosure of which would have a negative impact on the course of the proceedings; and

5. Confidential information that could compromise industrial or intellectual property rights (patent, model, sample, product and service mark, mark of product origin).

When the reasons for their unavailability are removed, the information determined in paragraph 1 of this article becomes available.

If the mandatory harm test determines that the consequences of publishing such information are less than the public interest determined by law that would be achieved by publishing the information, then the holders of the information will approve access to the information, and paragraph 1 of this article will not apply.


6. Is there a template for conducting the Harm Test?

Answer: While the legal obligation to implement the Harm Test when rejecting requests are clearly defined, the law, as in other countries, does not provide an exact description and procedure following the test. Namely, there are no written guidelines for administering the Test. It is only used for exceptions to free access to public information, such as classified documents and personal data.

The Law on Free Access to Public Information makes no absolute exceptions or special cases that would allow the Test to be avoided. This means that the Harm Test can be applied to either a document with the highest level of classification (a “state secret”) or a document containing sensitive personal information.

The Harm Test is carried out in three parts:

1. First, the exception to free access to information must be precisely foreseen and described in the law. The Law on Free Access to Public Information determines this categorically in Article 6, paragraph 1.

2. Secondly, to what extent does the access allow for damage that is critical to the protected purpose? By conducting the Test, the holder must demonstrate that disclosing the requested information will harm them, causing significant damage to the protected interest.

3. Lastly, the public interest in disclosing the information must be outweighed by the harm that would be done to the protected information.


7. What public procurement information should be made available to the public?

Answer: According to Article 10, paragraph 1, paragraph 18 of the Law on Free Access to Public Information (“Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia” no. 101/2019), information holders must mediate the entire documentation on public procurement to the public.


8. What are public officials’ duties and responsibilities in terms of mediating public information?

Answer: The act mandates each information holder to appoint one or more official persons for mediation in exercising the right to free access to public information, who will then communicate with the requesters and supply the requested data.

The official is obligated to carry out the procedure that follows a request for access to public information in a way that assists the requesters in obtaining the information they seek with minimal difficulty, expense, and delay, in fulfilment of a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of North Macedonia and made operational by the Law on Free Access to Public Information.  

The appointment of the official person is a relief for the applicant because he knows in advance who should act on their Request.  Requesters have a right to assistance from public officials in completing the required paperwork to obtain access to public information.

Each request for information, as well as the official’s response to it, is recorded and stored in its own file. These documents will be useful in putting together the annual report that must be submitted to the Agency.


9. Should all requests for public information be met with a Decision?

Answer: Yes, indeed. In response to requests for public information, the information holder may grant access, deny access, reject the request in whole or in part, or halt the process altogether, all of which constitute administrative acts or decisions. In this regard, Article 88 of the Law on General Administrative Procedure specifies the structure and mandatory elements of the written administrative act.


10. How do you handle requests for a large number of documents?

Answer: If the information holder requires more time than the 20-day deadline established in Article 21 of the Law on Free Access to Public Information, the response deadline can be extended to a maximum of 30 days. Regarding the extension of the deadline, the Holder is required to notify the Requester (electronically) as soon as possible and no later than seven days after receiving the Request.


11. Can a fee be charged for the requested information, and if so, in what circumstances?

Answer: Access to public information is provided at no cost. The applicant is liable for the material costs of the transcript, photocopy, or electronic record they have received (recommended only for extensive information requested).

The Government of the Republic of North Macedonia determines the compensation for material expenses (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia” no. 136/06 and “Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia” no. 140/17).

If the Request pertains to a larger volume of information, the information holder may request an advance payment of the fee to cover the costs.


12. What information should be included on the Public Information List?

Answer: The information holders are responsible for keeping the List of Public Information current and accurate by adding any new information they develop or acquire that is directly related to their core competencies. Article 10 of the Law on Free Access to Public Information describes and categorizes them more specifically.


13. Who and when can file a complaint with the Agency?

Answer: The Applicant who has submitted a Request for access to public information in accordance with the Law on Free Access to Public Information has the right to legal protection by filing a Complaint with the Agency. The complaint can be filed within 15 days of the expiration of the legal deadline for a response by the information holder, that is, within 15 days of receiving the information holder’s response or decision. Otherwise, the appeal will be considered and rejected as late.


14. How should information mediators respond when they receive a request for access to a large volume of publicly available information? Should a decision be made for every point of the request?

Answer: No. Each request for access to public information is met with a single administrative act, that is, a single decision. In the dispositive and the explanation, it is comprehensively described how the request was answered according to points 1, 2, 3, etc., as well as whether it was rejected, positively answered, or rejected.

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