On December 18, 2020, the Access to Information Programme (AIP) presented certificates to the students from professional program “Public Communications and Information Sciences” at the New Bulgarian University for successfully passing the practical course “Access to Information Public Communications.” The AIP delivers the course for a fifth consecutive year, encompassing the period November – December 2020.
5th Practical Course "Access to Information and Public Communication" for University Students 09.11.2020
Students from New Bulgarian University (NBU) will attend a series of lectures on access to information led by AIP team members. The course happens together with NBU's Media and Communications Department.
This year on the 23rd of October, the Access to information Programme celebrates 24 years since its foundation ➨
12 citizens, journalists, NGOs and institutions received AIP's annual Right to Know Day awards 29.09.2020
The Access to Information Programme presented its annual awards for contributions to the field of freedom of information on the occasion of the International Right to Know Day. The ceremony was held for the 18th consecutive year, but for the first time online. It happened with the participation of 60 citizens, journalists, representatives of civil society organizations and government institutions and with the support of Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria under the EEA Financial Mechanism. ➨
For the 18th year in a row the Access to Information Programme (AIP) will hand out the annual access to information awards in a special ceremony as a tradition in marking September 28th – the International Right to Know Day (RKD).
Igor Rozkladai: It was a really good combination of proper people, proper timing and support 07.07.2020
Igor Rozkladai, expert of Kiev-based Centre for Democracy (CEDEM) tells about Ukraine’s ratification of the first binding international treaty on access to information – the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents. ➨
State Enterprise refuses to disclose information under contract with a Russian company regarding constructions in the Port of Varna 22.06.2020
Is it justified for the State Enterprise "Port Infrastructure" to refuse the disclosure of data under a contract with a Russian company for constructions in Canals 1 and 2 of the Port of Varna?
This issue will be raised in the court case of Spas Spasov ("Capital" newspaper) against the refusal of the Director General of the State Enterprise "Port Infrastructure". The information was requested on May 7, 2020 regarding the agreement concluded between the State Enterprise "Port Infrastructure" and "Transport Construction and Reconstruction" JSC (TCR JSC) for the deepening of Canal 1 and Canal 2 of the Port of Varna. The requestor also sought information on the companies with which TCR JSC has concluded a contract for the implementation of the project, as well as the price at which, according to the concluded contracts, the deepening will be carried out. ➨
On May 7, 2020 during an online press conference, the Access to Information Programme (AIP) presented the Results from the 2020 AIP audit on institutional web sites.
The aim of the audit is to evaluate if the executive bodies fulfill their obligations for proactive disclosure of information online under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) and other legal regulations and to assess how they respond to electronic requests.
In the lack of a public body to coordinate and control the implementation of the APIA, including the obligations for proactive publication of information, the AIP Audit serves as a model publication scheme for public bodies to increase their active transparency.
AIP congratulates judge Grozev for his new position as president of one of ECtHR's five Sections 27.04.2020
Yonko Grozev is one of the founders of the Access to Information Programme. He is a proven professional in the judicial community in Europe and is among the people with most significant contribution to the development of the civil sector in Bulgaria - as evident in his biography, cited in the press release on the ECtHR website. ➨
186 NGOs and citizens support AIP's statement against proposed amendments in the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) 23.04.2020
April 22, 2020 - the Access to Information Programme submitted a statement regarding the Draft Bill of Amendments to the Bulgarian Excise Duties and Tax Warehouses Act through which the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) is also being amended.
According to AIP's assessement, the proposed amendments are to the detriment of citizens' right to information and jeopardize the transparency of institutions. ➨
National Health Insurance Fund repealed its order establishing longer deadlines for ATI responses 20.03.2020
Thanks to the active stance taken by the AIP and some media, the order by National Healthcare Insurance Fund (NHIF) director, which was repealed. ➨
National Health Insurance Fund prolongs without a legal ground the response deadline for ATI requests from 14 to 30 days 19.03.2020
By his March 18 order, the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) director Dr. Salchev has temporarily extended the deadline for replying to access to information requests to 30 days.
The NHIF, as a public entity obliged under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA), should provide with an answer those who seek information within the statutory time limit of 14 days. ➨
Bulgarian Parliament threatening the free of charge access to public information through a backdoor proposal 18.03.2020
On March 5, 2020, a group of 6 members of parliament from the ruling party, headed by the Chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Budgets and Finance Ms. Menda Stoyanova, submitted a legislative proposal for amendments to the Bulgarian Excise Duties and Tax Warehouses Act. At first glance, the bill only refers to changes in the transitional and final provisions of this act. Paragraph 5, however, amends two provisions of the Access to Public Information Act (APIA). The Committee on Budgets and Finance is the leading - and sole - parliamentary committee in charge of the legislative proposal.
Read here the thorough opinion by Alexander Kashumov, Head of AIP legal team ➨
Ministry of Justice obliged to publish memos from CVM meetings between Bulgarian and European officials, says court decision 05.02.2020
An access to public information case against the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), led by investigative journalist Dorothea Dachkova from "Sega" newspaper, was won with the legal representation of AIP's attorneys-at-law Alexander Kashumov and Kiril Terziyski. The legal procedure followed after the Justice Minister refused to disclose the memos from the meetings held between representatives of Bulgarian judiciary and executive with European Commission (EC) officials. The meetings were related to the CVM - EC's Cooperation and Verification Mechanism introduced after Bulgaria and Romania's adhesion to the EU. Under the scope of CVM, both countries were monitored due their difficulties in combating corruption and organized crime.
Attorney-at-law Kashumov shares his opinion on this important court victory ➨
January 28 is internationally known as Data Protection Day. On this date in 1981 Council of Europe's Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, known as "Convention No 108" was opened for signature. The decision to mark January 28 as the Data Protection Day was taken by the CoE's Committee of Ministers on April 26, 2006 and is currently observed all over the world.
On January 17, 2020, the Access to Information Programme (AIP) presented certificates to the students from professional program “Public Communications and Information Sciences” at the New Bulgarian University for successfully passing the practical course “Access to Information Public Communications.” The AIP delivers the course for a forth year, encompassing the period November – December 2019 in partnership with the Mass Communications Department of the New Bulgarian University and is within the project Transparency Advice Center supported by the America for Bulgaria Foundation.
Open Letter from Bulgarian civil society organizations to European Commission representatives 16.01.2020
In the last few years, Bulgaria has faced challenges regarding the civil society similar to those in some other countries of Central and Eastern Europe: smear campaigns against groups of CSOs, increasing anti-EU propaganda and actions stigmatizing human rights groups.
Last year, the mayor of Sofia announced in front of journalists that a commission of the contracting authority (ie Sofia Municipality) had inspected the site of central city street repair a day earlier and found some problems. Nevertheless the construction was announced as "finished". At the same time, the mayor said that certain sanctions have been imposed on the contractor of the site, the major construction firm GP Group AD.
An access to public information lawsuit followed, and after some months of the Municipality refusing to disclose documents on the case, the court finally obliged it to do so.
The Bulgarian Gulenist’s Extradition case: Ministry of Interior obliged to disclose documents on the arrest and extradition of 7 Turkish citizens to Turkey in 2016 08.01.2020
"This case has gained serious publicity, precisely because of the suspicion that the executive authorities, which are called upon to implement such measures, did not notrespect the fundamental rights of these citizens under the European Convention on Human Rights," says Alexander Kashumov, head of AIP's legal team.
Road Infrastructure Agency refuses to disclose facts and figures on e-vignettes sold by a private company 06.01.2020
Investigative journalists won a lawsuit against the state Road Infrastructure Agency. It turned out the value of vignettes sold by the then only private provider of this service exceeds five times the worth of vignettes sold by the state Road Infrsatrucute Agency. According to the Court, this information is not a trade secret and the Agency is not taking into account the public interest