Bulgarian Group Proposes Ideas on Rewriting RTI Law

25 March 2015

A new report by the Access to Information Programme (AIP) in Bulgaria proposes ways to handle five major implementation problems.

Based on its “18 years of experience in the monitoring and advocacy for enhanced transparency and accountability of public bodies and more active exercise of the right to information,” AIP formulated recommendations for necessary legislative amendments in five areas:

–       precision and unification of the standards for proactive disclosure of information;

–       introduction of clear obligations to respond to e-requests and provide information electronically;

–       precision of the access to information exemptions;

–       strengthening and imposing of the sanctions for incompliance with the APIA;

–       establishment of an independent public body to coordinate and exercise control over the APIA implementation (Information Commissioner/Ombudsman).

The recommendations were the subject of nationwide public consultations in 2014 in which “practical problems and obstacles before the exercise of the right to know and the implementation of the APIA were discussed.”

“AIP experts analyzed and summarized the statements and recommendations of the participants in the public discussions and also included them in the Concept. The authors of the report, a Concept on Amendments to the Access to Public Information Legislation, are Gergana Jouleva, Alexander Kashumov and Darina Palova,” according to AIP, which recently translated it into English.

Changes to Law Under Way

Amendments to the law are now in the process, including some of AIP’s proposals.

AIP reported:

Meanwhile, during the summer of 2014, a working group with a mandate to draft amendments to the APIA with the purpose to introduce the revised Directive 2013/37/EC on the Re-use of Public Sector Information was formed by a ministerial order at the Ministry of Transport, Information Technologies, and Communications (MTITC). AIP experts Gergana Jouleva and Alexander Kashumov were the only NGO representatives determined by the Order to take part in the working group. As a result, a number of AIP recommendations related to the proactive publication of information and the e-access to information were included in the text of the Draft Law on Amendments to the APIA. The text was published for public consultation in October-November 2014 and is now going through inter-institutional consultation.

In this context, the Concept will further serve as an effective tool in the debate led by AIP for better access to information legislation and implementation practices.

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