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New Draft Information Law Criticized

The media freedom watchdog ARTICLE 19 has criticized a draft Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance in Serbia and Montenegro as "confusing and contradictory."

Article 5 of the draft law, which would limit public access to information of "public importance," defines the term too broadly, according to ARTICLE 19, since the public should have access to all information held by a public body. By limiting the access rights of the public, the draft law severely complicates public information gathering and the possible effectiveness of local media, the watchdog said.

In the previous draft law, journalists were given the right to "directly follow the work of a public authority" by attending public meetings -- unlike in the current draft law. The previous draft law also granted whistleblowers legal immunity -- also dropped from the current draft.

(RFE/RL 10.x.03)

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