This is the list of frequent asked questions and answers related to the procedure for obtaining public information.
What are the costs related to obtaining information?
Insight in information requested is free-of-charge.
Applicants are obliged to pay a fee for transcript, photocopy or electronic record of information requested and set in the amount of material costs incurred by the information holder for that purpose.
The Government of the Republic of Macedonia sets the fee on reimbursement of material costs incurred by the information holder and related to information disclosure.
Information holders publish the fee in an adequate manner (official bulletins, websites, information boards, and like) and provide insight thereto to all applicants prior to the submission of their information requests.
If the information request concerns information of greater scope, the information holder can ask the applicant to make an advance payment of the fee on reimbursement of costs related to information disclosure.
My information request was rejected, how should I initiate the appeal procedure?
Pursuant to the Law, right to legal protection is guaranteed to all applicants who submitted written information requests.
Within a deadline of 30 days following the information request’s receipt, information holders can reject the request in part or in full, provided they have established that access to the information requested is prohibited or that partial access thereto is allowed pursuant to the Law. Should information holders reject the information request in part or in full, they should take a relevant decision thereto. Applicants are entitled to lodge an appeal against the decision on information request’s rejection taken by information holders.
If, within the period of 30 days the information holder fails to enable the applicant access to the information requested and fails to adopt the relevant decision thereto and communicate it to the applicant, the information request is considered to have been rejected and the applicant is entitled to lodge an appeal.
The appeal is lodged in front of the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information within a deadline of 15 days from the decision’s receipt, i.e., following the expiration of 30 days-period in cases when the applicant has not been presented with a decision on request’s rejection.
For easier reference, applicants can download the appeal template addressed to the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information.
The Commission, in the capacity of an independent state body, takes decision on appeals lodged within a deadline of 15 days following their submission.
In cases when the applicants are dissatisfied with the decision taken by the Commission, they are entitled to motion an administrative dispute lawsuit.
The court proceedings taken upon the administrative dispute lawsuit motioned are governed by the provisions contained in the Law on General Administrative Dispute.
In which language are information requests submitted?
Applicants submit their information requests to information holders in Macedonian language and by using the Macedonian Cyrillic letter, whereas applicants who speak an official language different than the Macedonian language and letter can submit their requests in their official language and letter used in compliance with the law.
What is the deadline on information disclosure?
The deadline on information disclosure starts from the day when the information request was submitted (or forwarded) to the relevant information holder.
Information holders are obliged to immediately respond to the information request and within a deadline of 30 days the latest from the request’s receipt.
Information holders disclose information in the form requested, unless the information requested already exists in a pre-determined form and is made available to the public and unless it is considered desirable for the information to be issued in a form different than the requested one. In such cases, the information holder justifies the reasons behind the information form used.
If the information holder needs a more time than the law-stipulated deadline for granting partial access to certain information or due to the scope of the document requested, it may extend the time period needed, which must not exceed a period of 40 days the latest from the information request’s receipt.
Information holders must inform the applicant in written as regards the extended deadline on information disclosure, and must indicate the reasons thereof within a period of three days the latest prior to the expiration of 30 days-period from the request’s receipt.
How to write and submit written request?
Applicants submit their information requests to relevant information holders. The request is submitted on a template previously determined by the Commission and information holders are obliged to secure the templates to the applicants. The information request includes the information holder’s title, the applicant’s name and surname, data on possible advocate or proxy, company or legal entity. As part of his/her request, the applicant is obliged to indicate the information requested and specify the manner of its disclosure (insight, transcript, photocopy or electronic record).
Applicants are not obliged to provide an explanation for their requests, however they need to specify that it is a matter of request for free access to information. If - on the basis of the request’s subject - it has been determined that it is a matter of free access to information in compliance with the Law, information holders must reconsider the request in compliance with the Law.
What are the rights and obligations related to submission of written requests?
Information holders take a decision on information requests in a law-stipulated procedure. For matters not regulated by a law, the provisions from the Law on General Administrative Procedure apply.
How to submit oral requests?
If the applicant requires access to information by means of an oral request, the information holder is obliged to provide the applicant with such access, in a manner that allows the applicant sufficient time to get acquainted with its contents. In that the information holder compiles a written note, unless it is a matter of information that does not fall under the scope of free access to public information.
How to initiate an appeal procedure?
The applicant is entitled to lodge an appeal in front of the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information against the information holder’s decision on rejecting the information request, within a deadline of 15 days from the day the applicant was presented with the relevant decision. For easier reference, applicants can download the appeal template addressed to the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information.
Applicants are entitled to lodge an appeal in front of the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information, in cases when:
- the information holder fails to provide the applicant access to information requested within a deadline of 30 or 40 days, and if it fails to take a decision thereto and communicate it to the applicant;
- the applicant believes that the information disclosed was not the one specified in his/her request;
- the information holder rejects the request in part or in full, provided it had determined that the information requested is classified and falls under a certain confidentiality category, taking into consideration the information holder’s legal obligation to conduct a test on determining whether information disclosure would result in smaller consequences on the interest protected compared against the public interest stipulated by law and achieved with the information disclosure.
The Commission, in the capacity of an independent body, takes a decision on the appeal within a deadline of 15 days following its receipt. An administrative dispute lawsuit can be motioned against the decision taken by the Commission in front of the competent court.
What are the obligations of information holders?
Information holders are obliged to appoint one or more responsible information mediation officers for the purpose allowing exercise of the right to free access to information and must inform the public thereof.
Information holders are obliged to keep and regularly update the list of information they dispose with, and to publish it in a manner accessible to the public (websites, information boards, etc.)
Premises designated for insight in information requested
Information holders are obliged to inform the public on the following:
- information holder’s general contact information, in particular: title, address, telephone number, fax number, e-mail address, and website;
- manner of submitting information requests;
- regulations that govern information holder’s competences and links to the register of regulations published in the official gazette;
- draft-programs, programs, strategies, views, opinions, studies, and other documents related to information holder’s competences;
- all calls for bids announced as public procurement procedures, and tender documents as specified by law;
- information on law-stipulated competencies of the information holder;
- organization and costs of operation, as well service provision for citizens in administrative procedures, and information holder’s activities;
- issued information bulletins and other forms of information;
- website address for uploading decisions, acts and measures that affect the life and work of citizens; and
- other information stemming from information holder’s competences and operation.
All information holders are obliged to provide free-of-charge access to public information.
For the purpose of informing the public on their operations, information holders are required to:
- upload the relevant laws and bylaws on their official website;
- issue press releases on actions taken in compliance with law-stipulated competences;
- publish statistical data on their operation;
- publish reports on their operation as forwarded to relevant control and supervision bodies; and
- make available all public information in another manner stipulated by law.
In order to secure free access to information, in compliance with the law information holders are obliged to secure premises designated for insight in information requested and provide assistance in submitting information requests.
What are the duties of information mediation officers?
All information holders must appoint one or more responsible information mediation officers to allow exercise of the right to free access to information.
Information holders are obliged to inform the public on the responsible officer tasked with matters related to information mediation.
Information mediation officers communicate with, disclose information and assist applicants, and keep appropriate records on information requests received, as well as on information keeping and disclosure.
Several information holders can jointly appoint one or more information mediation officers responsible to allow exercise of the right to free access to information.
Are there any exceptions from free access to information?
In compliance with the Law, information holders may reject an information request provided that the information requested is related to:
- information that – pursuant to a law - represents classified information of appropriate degree of secrecy;
- personal data whose disclosure implies violation of personal data protection;
- information on archive operations classified as confidential;
- information whose disclosure implies violation of the tax procedure’s confidentiality;
- information obtained or compiled as part of investigation, criminal or misdemeanor procedure, or used in administrative or civil procedure, whose disclosure implies harmful consequences on the procedure course;
- information related to commercial and other business interests, including interests related to monetary and fiscal policies, whose disclosure implies harmful consequences on the exercise of public offices;
- information contained in document under preparation and subject of alignment at the information holder, whose disclosure might cause misinterpretation of document’s contents;
- information on environmental protection that is not available to the public due to human health and environmental protection; and
- information that jeopardizes industrial or intellectual property rights (patent, model, sample, goods or service brand, product origin).
Information become available once the reasons for their unavailability cease to exist. As an exception therefrom, information holders will allow access to information should the disclosure of such information has smaller consequences on the interest that is protected compared against the public interest achieved with the information disclosure.
Where can one find the list of public information holders?
The list of public information holders is published in mass media, such as bulletins, websites.
The list of public information holders is available at http://www.komspi.mk/Imateli.aspx?lang=1
How does the law define the term “document“?
“Document” is any record of information, regardless of its physical form or features, written or printed text, maps, schemes, photographs, pictures, drawings, sketches, working materials, as well as audio, voice, magnetic or electronic records, optical or video records in any form whatsoever, as well as mobile equipment on automatic data processing with integrated or transferable memory for digital data storing.
Who can appear as information applicant?
“Information applicant” refers to any legal or natural person without discrimination on any grounds, in a manner and under conditions stipulated by the Law on Free Access to Public Information and by other laws.
What is public information?
“Public information” is information in any form, created and disposed by an information holder in compliance with its competences.
Who are information holders?
“Information holders” are state administration bodies and other bodies and organizations as specified by law, municipal bodies, bodies in the City of Skopje and the municipalities in the City of Skopje, public institutions and public services, public enterprises, legal entities and natural persons that perform public competences and activities of public interest as specified by law.