On the occasion of the International Day for Universal Access to Information, as members of the operational team of the Open Government Partnership in Montenegro, we would like to highlight the importance of transparency and access to information. Transparency is key to building trust and improving a democratic society.
This day represents an opportunity to remember the importance of an adequate legislative framework for free access to information as the foundation of a democratic society and civic participation. In this connection, we point out the necessity of changes to the Law on Free Access to Information. The process of amending the aforementioned law has been going on for a long time, but the public is not informed about the phase of this process and when we can expect the Draft Legislation.
Amendments to the law in Montenegro from April 2017 made it much more difficult to access information, especially those related to international cooperation and business secrets. At the same time, the obligation to decide on the merits of citizens’ complaints was abolished, which resulted in lengthy procedures. The key recommendations we highlight include the urgent need to speed up access to information procedures and establish an independent body to decide on complaints to ensure greater openness, prevent abuse of power, and provide the civil sector, the media, and citizens with a key tool for detecting corruption and irregularities in the work of state bodies.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global platform that brings together representatives of the executive branch and civil society to work together to improve transparency, accountability, and citizen participation. The OGP sets high standards for openness in public administration and promotes dialogue between the authorities and citizens. In Montenegro, the OGP represents a key initiative that promotes cooperation and openness in order to build a better future for all citizens.
Through our active role in the operational team of the OGP, as representatives of the non-governmental sector, we have the opportunity to contribute to increasing the transparency and responsibility of the authorities. We work together with the government to develop and implement action plans that focus on key areas of openness, such as access to information, the fight against corruption, and improving the conditions for citizen participation. Our role in the OGP allows us to be the citizens’ voice and advocate for positive societal changes.
We place special emphasis on the importance of open data. Open data is a valuable resource that enables the wide availability and use of data by citizens, businesses, the NGO sector, and researchers. Open data not only increases government transparency but also encourages innovation, creates economic opportunities, and helps make informed decisions. Through our activities within the OGP, we promote the use of open data as a key tool for improving the work of state institutions and creating greater value for citizens.
In the spirit of the International Day for Universal Access to Information, we invite all relevant actors in Montenegro to support transparency, openness, and the use of open data as a means to build a better and fairer future. We can achieve real changes and improve our society through joint effort and cooperation.
Furthermore, we call on the Government of Montenegro to issue a decision on appointing the Operational Team of Open Government Partnership as soon as possible so that this body can start working at full capacity.
Representatives of civil society in the Operational Team of Open Government Partnership – OGP (Aleksandar Perović, David Vukićević, Jovan Bojović, Miloš Marković, Miodrag Vujović, Pavle Ćupić, Petar Knežević, Sara Nikčević, Snezana Nikčević)