Trustee praises BIA progress

BELGRADE -- The trustee for access to information of public importance has applauded BIA for progress made in improving public accessibility to its work.

Rodoljub Šabić (FoNet, archive)
Rodoljub Šabić (FoNet, archive)

“In earlier years, BIA had an unacceptable, ignorant attitude towards the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance, to the rights of the citizens and the public, and to its own legal obligations,” Rodoljub Šabić said in his annual report.

He said that in the last year, the security services (BIA) had “taken major steps in addressing requests from the public, respecting legally enshrined procedures, and fulfilling obligations to inform the public of its work.”

Šabić said that it was clear that BIA and many other state institutions must work a lot harder in order to improve their public image.

The report praised the return after three years of the “whistleblower”—the Serbia Roads public company employee who helped bring down the Highway Mafia after contacting the trustee and the media.

The trustee also singled out for praise the government’s recent measures linked to salaries and bonuses in the public companies that were initiated at the behest of the Parliamentary Administrative Committee.

Statistics show that in 2008, 7.5 percent of cases were addressed by the authorities without the trustee’s prior instigation, adding that the situation is similar at both state and local levels.

As far as the executive organs are concerned, the Interior Ministry is one institution that could be accused of having difficulty in releasing information of public importance, based on the number of rejected applications at state level.

“However, one should not overlook the fact that this is a very large body that has a lot of information at its disposal and which really does receive a lot of requests for access to information,” Šabić pointed out.

Direct contact has been made with the Interior Ministry in an effort to remedy the situation, and the trustee expects the Ministry to have attained a higher level of discipline in respecting the public information law once the necessary measures are taken, his report adds.