The Access to Public Information Act (APIA) finds its practical application in the work of the journalists as the law gives the legal mechanism for public access to government held information.
Due to the efficiency of the APIA, journalists have overcome their initial skepticism towards the law and today they use its procedures to seek public information as actively as citizens and nongovernmental organizations.
In general, journalists prefer quick answers to the questions because they need the information “here and now.” Very often it is unjustified to submit written requests and to have to wait the legally prescribed two weeks for an answer to simple questions like: how much is the remuneration of the prime minister and the ministers; how many cases were brought to court against a respective institution; what is the number of children sheltered in special institutions; when will the provision of social support funds for the heating period start, etc.
At the same time, our experience shows that the written form of request for information can be very useful, especially when it comes to references containing complex data that have to be verified and processed; in cases when the journalistic publication is not limited by deadlines – for example, journalistic investigations, biographical books, or reviews on the activities of a particular state bodies; ineffective press centers, etc.
During the last several years, we have observed an increased interest of journalists and media to use the procedures under the APIA to obtain access to documents necessary in journalistic investigations revealing corruption practices and wrongdoings of government officials.
Journalists most frequently seek information regarding the decision making process, the spending of public funds, procurement and concession contracts of high public interest, results from inspection works of different public bodies. They request information from central authorities, authorities of local self-government and other bodies obliged under the APIA.
The cases that we publish here, as well as the litigation started after refusals of access to information, indicate this practice.
We hope that the information we publish will be useful for those who just start their search for information, as well as those with some experience behind. The practical goal of this web site is to serve as an online data base of the Access to Information Programme experience acquired during the years’ work with journalists.