Institute Alternative (IA) filed a lawsuit to the Administrative Court to annul the Agency for Prevention of Corruption’s Decision denying us access to a document in which it determined that DPS was illegally financed in the 2016 pre-election campaign.
Through free access to information, we requested the Decision of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption (ACA) in which it has established that the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) had violated the Law on Financing of Political Entities and Election Campaigns and ordered this political entity to return 47,500 euro to the Budget of Montenegro. However, Agency denied us access to the Decision, referring to the Law on Secrecy of Data, without stating which potentially harmful consequences would appear by publishing this document.
In the lawsuit, we pointed out that the Agency’s reasoning to mark the document as secret due to the fact that “Special Prosecution is simultaneously prosecuting persons and data specified in the Decision of Agency on return of funds to the budget” is unfounded. The document we requested is not about persons, as claimed by the Agency, but about the DPS as a political entity. What is known to the public is that Special Prosecution does not conduct proceedings against this political entity, but against its particular officials.
Decision of the Agency solely refers to a political entity, which the public is already familiar with in detail, as it has been informed about persons and specific data related to the administrative and criminal subject matter, therefore there are no reasons to classify the given Decision with the degree of secrecy.
In addition, Agency should not have to base its decision on any data of the Special State Prosecutor’s Office (SSPO), because at this stage, SSPO does not have indisputable evidence nor has it issued an indictment. Agency was obliged to carry out its own procedure within its jurisdiction and establish the facts, independently of the SSPO.
In the lawsuit, we pointed out that according to the Law on Secrecy of Data, “a classification of information shall not be designated if data are classified in order to cover up a criminal offence, the exceeding or abuse of competence, or some other unlawful act or behaviour or administrative error”.
Furthermore, we stressed that, according to the Law, “the obligation of classification and deciding on level of classification of information arises at the moment of creating or coming to knowledge of that information, or at the moment of undertaking the action for creating that information.”
However, the Agency marked the decision by the degree of secrecy “INTERNAL” right after we asked for it in the request for free access to information – on February 15th, although the press release that it had found illegal financing of DPS was issued on February 11th . Therefore, it is obvious that the Agency acted contrary to the provisions of the Law on Secrecy of Data, in order to illegally hide the content of the acts we requested, by misusing its authority.
We remind the public that by hiding the decision of the Agency, the way it conducted the entire procedure remains questionable, as well as the suspicion that it again did not do its job well and that its investigation did not go further from what Đukanović had already publicly admitted on behalf of DPS. Under the public attention, the need for a re-control of the DPS and the repetition of the procedure might arise, which obviously neither Radonjić nor DPS wants.
Interest of the public to get to know the content of the Decision of the Agency is unquestionable, which is why we requested the Administrative Court to make a meritorious decision upon our lawsuit and to annul the Agency’s Decision which seeks to hide evidence that the DPS was illegally financed in the election campaign for the 2016 parliamentary elections.
President of the Managing board