With regard to the statement by Ministry of Public Administration that it will not accept the request of 70 representatives of the NGO and media for postponing consultations on amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information, NGO Human Rights Action (HRA) once again urges the Ministry of Public Administration to postpone the consultations until conditions, which would allow a quality discussion regarding this important legal act, are met.
We support the organisation of consultations on the draft law as an important form of information and consultation of citizens, however, we ask that the consultations are held after establishing regular work circumstances, when full and active participation of all social actors is enabled.
The Law on Free Access to Information is a key tool for investigative journalists and NGOs that monitor the work of state bodies, and is, therefore, concerned that it is amended in the period of unprecedented global crisis and emergency situation in Montenegro. It is precisely the situation with the coronavirus pandemic that shows how important it is for public informing to be based on official and verified data, leaving minimal space for fake news and unverified information.
Transparency International supported the request for postponing the scheduled consultations, noting that ,,in a global crisis, open and transparent government matters more than ever, and all non-emergency legislative measure that require public consultation should be postponed until full, active participation can be guaranteed.”
Also, the Ministry of Public Administration did not respond to the request of NGOs and the media to make public the latest opinions of SIGMA and the European Commission on the latest text of the Draft Law on Free Access to Information, which significantly limits public debate. Therefore, HRA submitted a request to the Ministry for access to documents which contain the opinions of foreign experts.