Free access to information, freedom to access and transmit information is a basic freedom and right provided in the Constitution and operationalized with the Law on Free Access to Public Information . A new Law on Free Access to Public Information ofthe was prepared together with CSOs in a participatory manner, adopted in May 2019. Systematic changes included the creation of a new Agency to enable quicker and better access to information and increased transparency and accountability of the providers of information; yet, it is not functional. Political parties were added as the holders of public information. The new Law further prescribes a clear procedure to access public information, with defined limitations, and a shortened deadline (from 30 days to 20 days). In addition, sanctions for civil servants/units for breaching the legal requirements on access to public information are provided. Such sanctions are applied incase an official or a head of unit fails to appoint public officials to deal with free access to public information and/or fails to inform the public concerning their right to free access. Furthermore, several reasons listed in the Law, may be the reason for a 250 EUR sanction.
Most of the institutions publish some of the draft and/or adopted documents on their websites and/or on a centralized online platform. There is a centralized unified portal ENER where all draft laws subject to the consultation are published and where everyone can post comments and opinions. The ministries lack active publishing of information.
In practice, there are examples of CSOs that use the opportunity to access information, and the majority receive responses, mostly within the deadline and in a clear form. However, when it comes to providing reasons for refusals, the explanation is not provided to majority of them , nor is the procedure for filing a complaint.
Chart 14. What was the experience of your organization with the request for access to public information? (%)
According to the survey, just over a third 33.7% CSOs sent a request for access to public information in the past 12 months. Out of them, a total of 47.3% (26) CSOs received a response, 40% (22) CSOs said sometimes yes, sometimes no, 9.1% (five) CSOs did not get a response. Similarly, 40% (22) CSOs received the information within the legally prescribed deadline, 43.6% (24) CSOs sometimes yes, sometimes no, and 10.9% (six) CSOs did not receive within the deadline. When it comes to the clarity of the response, 36.4% (20) CSOs received a response in a clear format, (40%) 22 sometimes yes, sometimes no, and 18.2% (10) CSOs said it was not in clear form. Regarding explanation for refusal, 40% (22) CSOs did not receive a clear explanation on the reasons for refusal of the request, 25.5% (14) CSOs did receive a clear explanation, 21.8% (12) CSOs sometimes yes and sometimes no. In terms of rejecting requests without explanation, 61.8% (34) said that that was not the case, 21.8% (12) CSOs said sometimes yes sometimes no, and 7.3% (four) CSOs were rejected without explanation. For 61.8% (34) CSOs after the request was rejected they were not advisedto submit complaints, 9.1% (five) CSOs sometimes yes sometimes no, 16.4% (nine) CSOs have suggested this possibility.