Madrid, 14 December 2015 – The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) together with its affiliate, the Slovenian Journalists’ Association (DNS)Transparency International Slovenia and Access Info Europe, have today called on the Slovenian Parliament to reject a last-minute amendment that permits public officials to charge for their time in answering freedom of information requests, something that would be direct interference with the right of journalists and NGOs to access information.

On Tuesday 15 December, the Slovenian Parliament will hold a second discussion on the controversial amendment to the Access to Public Information Act  that was presented at the very last minute by coalition parties SD, SMC and DeSUS. There has been no time for public debate on this issue.

In a joint statement sent to Slovenian parliamentarians, the group warned that the charges will grossly affect the ability of journalists, media and NGOs to carry out their roles as watchdogs in the public interest.

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the EFJ President said, “The additional financial burden on journalists will affect the ability of journalists and news organisations to carry out investigative journalism.”

“These actors are the ones that work towards ensuring transparent and accountable functioning of the state, and are doing this in the name of the public,” added Blicher Bjerregård.

“Charges for the time of public officials to answer requests is a violation of the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents, which has been signed by Slovenia,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.

“Furthermore, badly organised public bodies which have to spend more time looking for information will be likely to impose higher charges, placing an unacceptable obstacle in the way of the right of access to information as protected by the Slovenian constitution,” added Darbishire.

The group argued that free access to information is becoming more important for normal functioning of a democratically run society, therefore increasing the financial burden of those who work in the name of the public is basically undemocratic.

The EFJ is working closely with DNS and civil society organisations in the country gathering public support to oppose the dangerous amendment which will hinder the fundamental rights of both citizens and journalists to freedom of information.

For more information, please contact:

Helen Darbishire | Access Info Europe
Send an e-mail or call +34 913 656 558

Photo: Citizens protesting in front of the Slovenia Parliament on 30 September. © Robert Balen