People Ought to Know How Budget Money is Spent
The Personal Data Protection Agency in BiH thinks that the records on beneficiaries of budget grants are not confidential and that the public has a right to them.
Personal data protection cannot be used as a pretext to hide budget spending. (Credit: CIN)
By The Center for Investigative Reporting
During the last year, government agencies turned to the Personal Data Protection Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) for guidance whether to reveal to public records on fees and reimbursements.
The agency responded that these were not personal data because they are related to budget spending and all the beneficiaries of the fees “cannot enjoy the protection of privacy to the extent that law gives to persons who don’t hold a public office.” Giving access to these records to journalists cannot infringe the privacy of civil servants according to the Agency’s 2012 report .
During the last year, the citizens also turned to the Agency. They mostly complained that some agencies asked them for a criminal record check during hiring procedure. The agency established this to be illegal on the ground of personal data and fined the responsible persons with fines between 300 KM and 1,100 KM. Those punished are: the Republika Srpska Minister of Education and Culture; Internal Affairs Minister of Central Bosnia Canton; a secretary of Sarajevo-based joint-stock company Bosnalijek; the minister of Health, Labor and Social Politics of Hercegovina Neretva Canton, while the FBiH Justice Minister was rebuked.
According to the Agency, employers should not ask for a police record check because the criminal records are confidential. A government institution can request them just in some justified cases of violation of the penal code, not like a document that should be attached with a job application.
Due to the violation of the Law on Personal Data, two more sanctions carrying a 300 KM fine were handed down: an employee of the Sarajevo School of Economy had to pay the fine because she gave a media outlet a medical information related to a student, while the director of the International High School in Sarajevo was fined because of taking finger prints from students.
The agency also checked the protection of personal data ex officio. They handed down a ruling which prohibited the Civil Service Agency from publishing the personal data of candidates applying for a job or for additional education and training. This ruling followed after reporters from the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN) wrote a series of stories about the abuses of hiring procedures and hiring of preferred candidates in public service. CIN reporters used the then active data base with the candidates’ first and last names as a source of information to prove the abuses.
Published June 7, 2013