11 Aug The Vršac Social Welfare Center obstructs access to information on the application of the Decree on Measures of Social Inclusion of Beneficiaries of Financial Social Assistance
The A11 Initiative for Economic and Social Rights had difficulties accessing the right to free access to information of public importance related to the implementation of social inclusion measures for beneficiaries of financial social assistance.
As part of a research on social inclusion measures that the A11 Initiative has been implementing since January 2018, certain Social Welfare Centers have been contacted with requests for access to information of public importance related to the implementation of the application of the Decree on Measures of Social Inclusion of Beneficiaries of Financial Social Assistance. Several initiatives have been submitted for constitutional review to the Institutional Court in 2014 regarding the controversial Decree, while the Ombudsman filed a proposal to assess the constitutionality of the contested regulation which, in the view of experts, introduced the discrimination of financial social assistance beneficiaries. Because of the aforementioned, the A11 Initiative began implementing research in order to acquire statistical data on the number of beneficiaries that Social Welfare Centers included in workfare measures, as well as to establish the number of beneficiaries whose access to the right to financial social support has been limited or revoked as a result of their unwillingness to be included in the measures prescribed by the Decree.
Although it was clearly stated in the request for information of public importance that the information sought is strictly statistical, as well as that all personal information on financial social assistance beneficiaries should be left out, the Vršac Social Welfare Center replied that they are not in the position to conform to the request as to do so, they would need the consent of the individuals to whom the information pertains to. The same body provided this information to the media in November 2016, and it is certain that they did not acquire the consent of more than 200 financial social assistance beneficiaries that the information pertained to.
Considering that the Vršac Social Welfare Center gravely violated the provisions of the Law on Access to Information of Public Importance through their actions, the A11 Initiative submitted an appeal/filled a complaint to the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection.