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  • 12 February 2014

    Lithuania, Malta, Turkey Fall Behind in OGP Process

    Lithuania, Malta and Turkey have failed to meet their commitments as members of the Open Government Partnership, the OGP acknowledged in an unusual public statement issued Feb. 11. Three countries appear to be drop-outs from “Cohort 2” – a group of countries that joined the OGP at about the same time. They faced the same […]

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  • 19 June 2009

    12 European Countries Sign First International Convention on Access to Official Documents

    Advocates Urge 37 Remaining Council of Europe Members to Sign Tromsø, Norway — On June 18, 2009, 12 of 47 member-states of the Council of Europe signed the Convention on Access to Official Documents, making history as the first international binding legal instrument that recognizes a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities. […]

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News Archive

  • 1 June 2002

    World Bank Begins Pilot Programs on Disclosure

    Some 20 countries are about to embark on pilot programs with the World Bank in which they will disclose and disseminate more information than they have in the past – that is, more than what Bank policy currently requires. The exact dimensions of this effort will become clearer once the Bank makes an official announcement […]

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LEGAL DOCUMENTS Law on Provision of Information to the Public. July 2, 1996 No. I-1418 (as amended by June 20, 2002 No. IX - 972).   The Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets. No. VIII - 1443, November 25, 1999. (amended as of 20 November 2001. No. IX - 613).   Law on Registering, Confession, Entry into Records and Protection of Persons who Have Admitted to Secret Collaboration with Special Services of the Former USSR. No. VIII-1436. November 23, 1999. As amended by June 13, 2000. No. VIII-1726.   The Law on Legal Protection of Personal Data, No. IX-1296 (21 January 2003)   Law on Archives. 5 December 1995 No. I-1115.   GOVERNMENT State Data Protection Inspectorate   ORGANIZATIONS Transparency International Lithuanian Chapter   OTHER RESOURCES EUROPA, eGovernment Factsheet: Lithuania (November 2005)   Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania, Implementation of the Aarhus Convention in Lithuania (November 2001)   HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Click to view. Text from the Global Survey: Freedom of Information and Access to Government Records Around the World, by David Banisar (updated July 2006)


Article 25(5) of the Constitution states: "The citizen shall have the right to receive, according to the procedure established by law, any information concerning him that is held by State institutions."(1) The Law on the Provision of Information to the Public sets out the general principle of freedom of information stating, "Every individual shall have the right to obtain from state and local authority institutions and agencies and other budgetary institutions public information regarding their activities, their official documents (copies), as well as private information about himself."(2) The Law on the Right to Obtain Information from State and Local Government Institutions was enacted in January 2000 and substantially revised in November 2005 to implement the EU Directive on the re-use and commercial exploitation of public sector information (2003/98/EC).(3) It allows citizens, residents and legal persons in Lithuania or other EU and EEA countries to obtain information by state and local government bodies and private bodies providing public services. Requests must be in writing and include the name and address of the individual asking for information. Requests must be acted on within 20 days (up from 14 previously) which can be extended another 20 days. Information that is a state, official, professional, commercial or bank secret under another law cannot be disclosed. Also exempted is other information protected by law and whose disclosure would violate personal privacy, intellectual property rights, or cause damage to interests of state security and defense, foreign policy interests and criminal prosecution. Information can also be withheld that is not related to government functions, protected by intellectual property rights, held by national television and radio, schools, libraries, museums, archives, requiring a legal interest, or exchanged between administrations. Appeals can be made to an internal Appeals Dispute Commission and then to an administrative court. The Seimas Ombudsman reviewed 73 cases in 2004 relating to the "provision of explanations, other information or requested documents." Public bodies must also create an index of the information they hold and publish information about functions, structure and activities. The COE GRECO anti-corruption program found significant problems with access to public access to records in 2002 and recommended improvements.
The GET was also concerned about the indications that it is generally difficult for the public and the media to have access to public documents, partly due to legal obstacles, partly due to a discretionary application of the regulations by public officials. In addition, information concerning inappropriately influenced journalists and media should be further scrutinised. The control of the authorities exerted by the public opinion, to a large extent thanks to media, is vital in a democratic society and plays a significant role by revealing hidden corrupt practices. However, for this control to be effective access to public documents must be ensured. Therefore, the GET recommended Lithuania to improve the transparency of public authorities vis-a-vis media and the wider public, in particular, with regard to access to public documents and information.(4)
The Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets sets rules on the protection of classified information. It was enacted in 1999 to implement NATO standards, replacing the 1995 Law on State Secrets and Their Protection.(5) It is overseen by the Commission for Secrets Protection Co-ordination. The Constitutional Court in 1996 ruled that several provisions of the 1995 act were unconstitutional.(6) President Rolandas Paksas was impeached in April 2004 for disclosing state secrets by revealing to a Russian citizen that he was under surveillance by the Internal Security Department.(7) He was later found innocent by a court of the charge. In November 1999, Parliament enacted the Law on Registering, Confession, Entry into Records and Protection of Persons Who Have Admitted to Secret Collaboration with Special Services of the Former USSR to vet public officials who worked with the Soviet-era secret police.(8) Those who refuse to admit ties with the secret police face having information about their activities under the communist regime made public. 1,500 had admitted their ties as of January 2005 including recently a number of senior officials such as Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis and State Security Department Director General Arvydas Pocius. It is estimated another 4,500 have not come forward. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in July 2004 that two former KGB employees had been discriminated against in their employment following admitting their past ties.(9) The Law on Legal Protection of Personal Data allows individuals to access and correct personal information held by public and private bodies.(10) It is enforced by the State Data Protection Inspectorate.(11) The Law on Declaration of the Property and Income of Residents makes public the declarations of elected and senior officials in the Official Gazette.(12) The Law on Archives requires that state institutions transfer most documents after 15 years.(13) Secret documents are to be kept for 30 years by the institution and access is regulated by the Secrets Law. Lithuania signed the Aarhus Convention in June 1998 and ratified it in 2002. Access to environmental information is based on a 1999 order on public access to environmental information.(14) 2004 Global Survey Results - Lithuania   NOTES Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. 25 October 1992. Law on Provision of Information to the Public. 2 July 1996 No. I-1418 (as amended by 20 June 2002 No. IX - 972). Nr. X-383 of 10 November 2005. See EU, Public Sector Information Implementation Status. GRECO, First Evaluation Round - Evaluation Report on Lithuania. 4-8 March 2002. Greco Eval I Rep (2002) 1E Final. The Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets. No. VIII - 1443, 25 November 1999. (amended as of 20 November 2001. No. IX - 613). See NATO, Background information on the Lithuanian National NATO Integration Programme, 1999-2000. Case 3/96. 9 December 1996. See Law on Registering, Confession, Entry into Records and Protection of Persons who Have Admitted to Secret Collaboration with Special Services of the Former USSR. No. VIII-1436. 23 November 1999. As amended by 13 June 2000. No. VIII-1726. Case of Sidabras and Diautas v. Lithuania. Applications nos. 55480/00 and 59330/00. The Law on Legal Protection of Personal Data, No. IX-1296. 21 January 2003. Homepage: Law on Declaration of the Property and Income of Residents. 16 May 1996 No I - 1338 (as amended by July 20, 2000. No. VIII - 1887). Law on Archives. 5 December 1995 No. I-1115. Government Resolution No 1175 On Approval of the Order on Public Access to Environmental Information in the Republic of Lithuania, adopted on 22 October 1999; Order of the Minister of Environment No 273 On the Regulation on Possession of Documentation, Provision of Information Under the Public Requests and Visitor Service in the Ministry of Environment, adopted on 4 July 2000.



Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.