AIP prepared and published a Concept on Amendments to the Access to Public Information Legislation.
The Concept aims to present a broad range of problems stemming from the Access to Public Information Act implementation practices and possible solutions for their overcoming. It is based on AIP 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. In the course of drafting the Concept, AIP experts have explored the experience of states with good legislative models and effective enforcement mechanisms.
AIP recommendations for legislative amendments aim at improvements in five main directions:
- 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 Concept also contains the results from five public discussions, organized and held by AIP within the period June – October 2014, with different interested groups with the aim to discuss the need for legislative amendments – with journalists from print and electronic media; IT specialists, open data activists, bloggers and business; representatives of NGOs and active civil groups; public officials responsible for the APIA implementation; and lawyers and judges from administrative courts.
“The second Concept, which AIP presents 16 years after the first one, is based on more knowledge, developed international standards, extremely rich AIP experience in the provision of free legal help to access to information requestors, case law, the experience of training officials from the administration, journalists, NGOs, different campaigns” (Why is this Concept Necessary?, Gergana Jouleva, AIP Executive Director.
The Concept onAmendments to the Access to Information Legislation was published in AIP monthly FOI newsletter for November 2014 and disseminated electronically to 2,400 subscribers: http://www.aip-bg.org/publications/Бюлетин/Брой/104957/.
The Concept was presented at a National Conference “Are APIA Amendments Necessary” before NGOs, journalists, citizens, lawyers, politicians, held on December 12, 2014 in Sofia.
The Concept is a result of a year long Advocacy Campaign run by AIP within a project supported by a grant under the NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area 2009 – 2014 www.ngogrants.bg