Based on the Contract on the Implementation of the Twinning Light Project ‘Strengthening the Capacities of the Agency for the Protection of Personal Data and Free Access to Information’, which was signed on 13 August 2018, Information Commissioner has started the implementation of a six-month Twinning Light project. The project amounts to a total of € 250,000.00, financed by EU IPA funds for the purpose of assisting to the EU accession process of Montenegro. The implementation contract was signed by dr Anamarija Musa, Information Commissioner, on behalf of the MS institution providing project assistance, who is also the Project Leader, and Mr Muhamed Gjokaj, President of the Council of the Agency for Protection of Personal Data and Free Access to Information of Montenegro.

The Twinning Agreement of the European Union was signed through the European Commission and the EU Delegation to Montenegro with the Information Commissioner and the Central Agency for Financing and Contracting of EU Programs and Projects (SAFU), that will provide administrative and financial support to the implementation of the project.

Experts from the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Administration, the Office of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the Central State Office for the Development of the Digital Society and the Administrative Court in Rijeka are involved as short-term experts in the implementation of the project on the part of the MS. Apart from the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information Montenegro, the participation of the beneficiary countries’ stakeholders is expected, such as the Ministry of Public Administration, the Human Resources Management Agency, the Administrative Court as well as public authorities obliged to implement the Law.

The core objective of the project is to strengthen the efficiency of the exercise of the right to free access to information in Montenegro, in line with EU standards and good international practice, primarily through the strengthening of the capacity of public authorities and the Agency as a supervisory independent body for the implementation of the Law on Free Access to Information, but also strengthening the user’s awareness of the right of access to information and the possibilities for the use of their right.

The project consists of two components, namely component I. Strengthening the Capacities of the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information and Authorities for the Effective Application of the Law on Free Access to Information (component leader: Dubravka Bevandić, Head of the Service for Protection of Access Rights information) and component II. Raising the level of awareness of the use and accessibility of the free access to information by citizens and the private sector (component leader: Anamarija Musa, Information Commissioner).

Project activities include preparation of the analysis of legislative framework with recommendations for improvement, drafting subordinate regulation for the implementation of the Directive on the Reuse of Public Sector Information, conducting of trainings and workshops for key stakeholders in the process of implementation and monitoring the implementation of the Law, as well as developing tools for the Law standardization, such as handbooks, guides, and register of public authorities.  The project is also expected to result with the analysis of the proactive publication of information on the Internet sites with recommendations for improvement, the analysis of open data practice with recommendations for improvement, and the implementation of the awareness-raising campaign on the right of access to information among users. A study visit is also planned for the representatives of the Beneficiary Institution to the Republic of Croatia, hosted by Information Commissioner and the associate Institutions.

The project is expected to lead to following results and outcomes:

  • Limited misuse of the right to access information;
  • Strengthening of the administrative and technical capacity of the Agency and law enforcement agencies for the implementation of laws and by-laws, as well as the capacity of the inspection to monitor the application of the legislative framework;
  • Increased coordination between the Agency, the public bodies and the Administrative Court in the interpretation and application of the Law on Free Access to Information and the Law on Administrative Procedure;
  • Enhanced competencies of the officials in public bodies to deal with requests for access to information;
  • Creating more accessible mechanisms for submitting requests for information for the users;
  • Increased level of proactive disclosure of information on the website of the public bodies;
  • Increased availability of key information on the Open Data Portal;
  • Implementation of public awareness campaign about the effective use of the right to information.