Croatian Court Creates Chance to Rewrite FOIA Law

1 April 2011

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia on March 23 overturned the 2010 law on access to information, according to an announcement by Transparency International Croatia (TIC), which brought the lawsuit and said it hopes a better law will be written the next time around.

TIC had argued that the Act on the Amendments to the Freedom of Information Act, adopted Dec. 10, 2010, was approved by procedures not in line with the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. 

Explaining the ruling, the group wrote, “Following the Constitutional amendments adopted in June 2010, the right to information was recognized as a constitutional right.” TIC added. “Any act regulating constitutional rights represents an organic law and should therefore be adopted by the absolute majority, rather than simple majority, as was the case when this Act was adopted on the 20th session of the Croatian Parliament.” 

Looking ahead to the potential for writing a replacement law, TIC said it could be “an opportunity to improve legal framework and elaborate a more precise definition of the provisions which open room for manipulation or hiding information by classifying it as secret.”

“The new adoption procedure should also be used to clarify the colliding provisions related to the establishment of catalog of information, appeal deadlines should also be shortened in order to increase rapidity and efficiency of obtaining information,” according to TIC. “The provisions of the Act should also be aligned with the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents – Croatia being the only country in the region which has not signed this document,” TIV added. 

The group noted further that a new law should establish an independent body to supervise  the implementation of the FOIA and act as a second-instance appellate body. Such a body should report directly to the Parliament, TIC said.

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