“Abusive requests” provisions in the proposed changes of the Law no. 119/2014 “For the Right to Information” are removed

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Source/Author: AWA
Source/Photo: safe journalists

The Albanian Ministry of Justice published in October 2022 a draft law that proposes changes to the existing Law no. 119/2014 “For the Right to Information” with the aim of strengthening transparency and accountability of public authorities (More info here). However, Safe Journalists Network (reaction here), press freedom organizations, and civil society groups expressed at the time concerns about certain provisions in the draft law, such as the provisions regarding “abusive requests,” which could be used by public authorities to dismiss requests for public information from journalists without justification. The proposed changes also failed to address the issue of ensuring transparency and appropriate responses to requests for public information from public institutions. The SafeJournalists Network, press freedom organizations, and civil society groups had called on authorities to reconsider the proposals of civil society and adopt changes that will contribute to the realization of the right to information for journalists and all citizens.

On 11th April 2023, the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Commissioner for the Right to Information and Data Protection organized a consultative meeting on this draft law with representatives from public authorities, civil society organizations, and the media.

Safe Journalists welcome the removal of proposed provisions for abusive requests in the draft law, which is one of the main changes. Moreover, the Commissioner’s competencies in the field of the right to information are included and expanded, consolidating the role of the Commissioner’s Office and strengthening its supervisory activity in ensuring citizens’ practical exercise of the right to information. Additionally, the public authority is now obligated to implement the Commissioner’s decision, and the head of the public authority will face administrative sanctions for non-compliance. The precise and concrete definition of responsibility for non-compliance with legislation on the right to information is another key change that is welcomed. Furthermore, the changes now allow the Commissioner for the Right to Information, after an administrative investigation, to impose fines on the head of the institution or official who obstructs the provision of information in accordance with the law (More here).