Madrid, 1 April 2020 – Access Info today joined 41 Montenegrin NGOs and 28 journalists in calling on the government of Montenegro to halt moves to weaken the Law on Free Access to Information in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter of concern sent to Montenegro’s Ministry of Public Administration, Access Info called on it to postpone a public consultation on reforms to the Law on Free Access to Information that is taking place this week with a deadline of 4 April. This public consultation comes just at a time when people are confined to their homes, distracted by news of the global health crisis, and when parliamentary sessions are suspended.
Access Info has also written to the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, sharing these concerns and urging the EU to discuss the need to protect the right of access to information at this crucial time.
“The timing for this public consultation during a state of emergency is totally inappropriate and unnecessary. As a member of the Open Government Partnership, Montenegro should be doing everything to ensure that participatory processes meet international standards, in particular when related to transparency,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info.
Access Info also supported the calls of Montenegrin civil society for the government of Montenegro to publish all the expert analyses on the Law on Free Access to Information received from European Union experts. The release of this information would facilitate a fully informed debate on the necessity and quality of the proposed amendments.
“The reform of the transparency law cannot take place in a manner that is shrouded in secrecy,” added Darbishire, “Given the role of journalists and CSOs in monitoring government action, it is of great concern that this law is being amended during a serious health crisis and just a few months before parliamentary elections.”
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Paula Domínguez, Communications Officer | Access Info Europe
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Helen Darbishire, Executive Director | Access Info Europe
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