09 February 2010

In order to enhance the execution of the right of access to information in Bulgaria in line with 2008 amendments to the Access to Public Information Act and push for the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents, Access to Information Programme (AIP) initiated Public Awareness Campaign on New Standards in the Access to Information Area.


Participants in the discussion in Blagoevgrad, 21.01.2010

The purpose of the initiative is to promote higher standards for the provision of public information by institutions, to encourage more active exercise of the right to information by citizens and to advance the ratification of the Convention by the Bulgarian government.


AIP has translated the text of the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents (adopted on November 27, 2008) and the Explanatory Report. AIP has also performed a comparative analysis of the Bulgarian Access to Public Information Act (APIA) and the Convention and prepared a compliance assessment report.Translated texts and analyses are available online at AIP web site.

AIP will send the translated texts, the analysis and the report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to urge the start, or if started, the speed-up of the procedure for Bulgarian accession to the Convention. Bulgarian government has not yet stated any position with regard to the signing and ratification of the Convention.


Last amendments to the APIA, as of December 5, 2008, will be also promoted and popularized among wider interested audience. The amendments introduced extended scope of obliged bodies by including the regional offices of the central authorities and bodies financed under EU programs and funds. The changes also introduced the obligation for the provision of partial access to information which used to be discretional; the obligation for proactive publication of information online; and the public interest test.


Gergana Jouleva answers questions from the audience in Kyustendil, 26.01.2010

Throughout 2010, Gergana Jouleva, AIP executive director, and Alexander Kashumov, head of AIP legal team will present and clarify the principles set forth by the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents texts of the Convention and corresponding amendments to Bulgarian APIA at public discussions in 26 regional towns in Bulgaria.


In January, the first three discussions took place in the towns of Blagoevgrad, Kyustendil, and Pernik. Local communities showed high interest in the events. A total of 158 representatives of NGOs, journalists, civil servants, students, and active citizens, irrespective of political affiliation, attended. Presentations provoked lively discussions. Participants shared experience in using the Access to Public Information Act and cases of information refusals from local public bodies. Discussions were widely covered by local media.


The campaign is supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Financial Mechanism (The NGO Fund – Bulgaria 2008-2010; Contract No.ПО3-20-00).