International Freedom of Information Litigation Conference—Lessons Learned was held on 25-26 November 2005 in Sofia, Bulgaria. The conference was organized by Access to Information Programme Foundation with the support of the Council of Europe. Participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Rumania, Moldova, Albania, Hungary, the Check Republic, Armenia, Georgia, the Netherlands, and the USA visited Sofia to take part in the event.
Access to Information Program (AIP) has organized the celebration of the International Right to Know Day on 28 September for the third successive year. The ceremony was held in Mati hall in the National Palace of Culture. Positive and negative awards were given in eight categories. Read more on the special web site: www.RightToKnowDay.net.
Denial to disclose the controversial Trakia Highway concession appealed with the help of AIP 03.06.2005
A journalist has started FOI court proceedings on Friday, 3 June 2005, with the help of Access to Information Programme The news was spread out by "Novinar" newspaper on Monday. The appeal is against a denial of the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works to disclose the concession contract of Trakia highway. The case about this contract became quite scandalous in Bulgaria, since there was no tender procedure. NGOs and politicians shared publicly serious suspicions of corruption. There was unofficial information that the Prime minister's family had some indirect participation in the company taking the concession and that the Bulgarian government undertook heavy responsibilities to pay reparations to the company in case there would not be enough highway traffic during the concession period of 35 years. The concerns were so serious, that recently Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung informed that the European Investment Bank is reconsidering its financing strategy for the construction of part of the motorway. The EIB vice president confirmed the position.
Access to Information Programme Foundation and Internet Society Bulgaria presented the annual “Big Brother” anti-awards for the violation of the right to privacy and the protection of personal data at an official ceremony in the “The Red House—Center for Culture and Debate” on 13 April 2005.
The award “Big Brother” was founded by Privacy International—a human rights group working for the protection of privacy. “Big Brother” awards are bestowed to these institutions, which directly or by establishing requirements and rules, seriously violate people’s privacy and the right to protection of personal data. The symbol of the anti-award is a military boot smashing a human head.
Sixteen European civil society organizations joined the Justice Initiative in calling on the Council of Europe to adopt a new binding instrument entrenching the right to access information throughout Europe 12.04.2005
Sixteen European civil society organizations joined the Justice Initiative on April 12, 2005 in calling on the Council of Europe to adopt a new binding instrument entrenching the right to access information throughout Europe.
The final version of the report "Access to Information in Bulgaria 2004" is now available 10.03.2005
The final version of the report "Access to Information in Bulgaria 2004" is available. The purpose of this report is to summarize the developments in the freedom of information legislation and its implementation. The problems of the implementation of the right to information access outlined by the reporting team allow us to make certain conclusions on a practical and political level, in an attempt to improve the practices of providing access to information. This is the reason why this report starts with recommendations for the legislative and executive bodies of power in Bulgaria. This Report is published within the framework of the project "Implementation of Freedom of Information in Bulgaria", implemented by Access to Information Programme with cooperation of VVMZ East European Investment Services B.V. (NL) and financially supported by the Programme for Social Transformation in Central and East Europe (MATRA) of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Three strategic information cases, initiated by the Access to Information Programme were heard in the Bulgarian courts in January.
The Bulgarian government adopted draft amendments of the Protection of Classified Information Act 06.01.2005
On Tuesday, 6 January 2005, the Bulgarian government adopted draft amendments of the Protection of Classified Information Act, seeking for easier destruction of classified documents (without any exposure in public eye before that) and shifting the decision-making power on that issue from the Commission under the Act to the authorities that hold the documents. In fact, the draft is not public yet. Access to Information Programme (AIP) is anxious about the lack of transparency of the draft and of a preliminary public discussion. We are worried that the already known changes are clearly bad. There is a concern that the uncontrolled discretion given to public authorities to decide on the destruction of their documents, without publishing them before that, would make it possible to easily delete data about wrong-doings. Another problem, communicated in the debate after the changes were announced, was that the former state security services' files are also threatened by deletion. That is because the draft amendments do not distinguish between destruction of current and former documents. So, AIP already started severe criticism through media.