Access to information
The right of access to information, or the right to know, the first pillar of the Aarhus Convention. As such it is directly linked with democracy and transparency in public administration. The principles of the first steps have established a right that every person receives official information about the environment / environmental information held by public authorities. In this regard, it is not necessary to explain the reason for the requested information, as it is not only that the applicant must be a citizen or resident of Republic of Serbia.
What is meant by “environmental information”?
The term “environmental information” covers many concepts. As for the content of this information, the public can request free information about:
• state of the environment and its elements: air, water, land, landscape, natural values, etc. .;
• Biodiversity including GMOs;
• factors such as certain substances, energy, noise, radiation, disposal or discharge, etc.., Which will likely have an impact on the environment;
• plans, programs, implementation of policy, legislation, economic analysis, etc. .;
• the state of human health, public safety, living conditions,
• condition of cultural values and built structures that are likely to give, or have an impact on the environment.
As for the shape information, the public may request written information (documents), as well as visual, audio or electronic data. In any case, the data must be present in the material form.
The public demand or public initiative
The Convention aims to actively and passively disclosure of information relating to the environment.
In this case, the public is active or request certain information from public institutions. Public institutions are required to provide the information not later than one month (with the possibility of prolonging, if the request is complex and / or contain large amounts of data).
In this case, public institutions spontaneously make the information available to the public in easily accessible formats such as printed publications or web site.
Who you ask?
The public may request information from any public institution, in other words from:
· Administrative bodies / services (state and local),
· From any natural or legal person in public administration, particularly in relation to the environment,
· Or institutions responsible for the provision of public services relating to the environment under the control of a body that is mentioned above.
Can a public institution to refuse to inform the public?
Public institutions and authorities may refuse to make the information publicly available in certain circumstances set forth in the Convention. Interpretation of the reasons for refusing must be explained very accurately and be related to the benefits of public interest. Furthermore, public institutions and authorities must explain why the request for information refused to allow the applicant to appeal against such decisions.