Croatia Adopts New Freedom of Information Law

15 February 2013

Croatia has adopted a new freedom of information law that a leading advocate said “encompasses highest standards of transparency and oversight.”

“After almost 10 months of intensive work within working group of the Ministry of Administration, public consultations, additional advocacy, research and lobbying, following several years of advocacy campaigns by civil society organizations and experts in Croatia, we finally did it – a new FOIA encompasses highest standards of transparency and oversight,” according to Vanja Škori?, Senior Legal Advisor with the group GONG, a non-partisan citizens’ organization founded in 1997 to encourage citizens to actively participate in political processes.

“Practically all GONG inputs and amendments were accepted in the final adopted draft,” Škori? reported.

The new FOIA law (See attachment of official version here; not yet available in English) creates a new position, an information commissioner, who will be elected by the Parliament, and grants the commissioner oversight mechanisms include the right to inspect documents and apply administrative sanctions.

The law will apply a proportionality and public interest test to all information requests.

Proactive publishing of information by public bodies is called for, with specifications on what must be published and bylaws on implementation.

The law will enable reuse of information, without costs, for any purpose (non-commercial and commercial).

“In addition to the new FOIA, there are concrete measures, activity plans and pilot-projects for open data initiatives happening in Croatia (government portal – data.org.hr, among others), FOIA educations have started again in State School for Public Officials with GONG included as a lecturer, and hopefully, a new Information Commissioner will be a person to use the full FOIA potential now ensured by legal and institutional framework,” Škori? said.  

Croatia’s 2003 law ranks eighth in the ratings of 93 FOI laws by Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Passage of a FOI law was one of the steps Croatia took to qualify for entry into the European Union entry, expected on July 1.

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