Madrid, 15 December 2015 – In the face of strong national and international reaction to the proposal to introduce charges for the time of public officials in answering information requests, Slovenian coalition parties today withdrew the problematic amendment to Article 24 of the new Freedom of Information Act from the legislative procedure.
This decision was welcomed by Access Info Europe, the Association of Slovenian Journalists, Transparency International Slovenia, and the European Federation of Journalists, who in recent days had raised concerns about the proposed amendment (read the original story from 14 December).
We are pleased that coalition parties heard and understood arguments of journalists, editors and non-governmental organizations against the proposed amendment, and agreed that the amendment would directly infringe on media freedom, freedom of information and possibilities of effective monitoring of the public and private sectors.
“This was the right decision to take, given that charges for the time of public officials to answer requests is a direct violation of international and comparative standards, including Article 7 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.
Access Info Europe notes that charges for time answering requests is highly problematic as the charges are likely to be higher in badly organised public bodies, thus penalising the requester for bureaucratic inefficiency.
Although public bodies often complain about the burdens of answering requests, recent data from the UK revealed that the cost is only 1/50th (2%) of the amount that the government spends on official communications and PR. Furthermore, information requests often result in savings be revealing inefficiency, waste or even corruption.
For more information, please contact:
Helen Darbishire | Access Info Europe
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Photo: Citizens protesting in front of the Slovenia Parliament on 30 September. © Robert Balen