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How to Get Access to Information - Citizen's guide

Dear Reader,

The Access to Public Information Law (APIL) was published In the State Gazette No. 55 of 7 July 2000. This is the first such kind of law in Bulgaria. Prior to the adoption of the law, citizens had only access to the information held in public registers, and information concerning the environment. Most democratic countries have already adopted such laws to help every citizen or legal entity to seek information by providing access to the largest database, that of the state. Such access should be free, because the state is not the sole owner of the information it collects. As information is a resource of vital importance at the present time, public servants must not be held in privilege because of their advantage of possessing it.

The philosophy of the law is twofold: creating opportunities for the citizens and the legal entities to make well-informed choices and controlling the state effectively by enhancing the process of regular reporting about official affairs, thus making the decision-making process more transparent.

The most important aspect of every law is the opportunity to exercise the rights which it guarantees. Only then will it assert itself in the public and legal realm and thus serve society. The efficiency of its stipulations can only manifest itself when applied in practice.

The Bulgarian APIL has been in existence for a short time only. It will take much longer for the administration to set the statutes for applying the law. However, the law is a fact, and we as citizens can benefit from it and exercise the rights that it guarantees.

The aim of this booklet is to help the citizens seek information by explaining all the required steps envisaged in the law to exercise the right of access of information. The whole team of the Access to Information Program (AIP) was involved in the preparation of this Guide. The main difficulty was to translate the legal norms into understandable language, which AIP lawyers Fany Davidova and Alexander Kashumov tried to accomplish.

The more practices we have under this law, the better and more detailed explanation we would have about every step of the process of seeking information. Our intentions are to regularly update this guide.

The AIP team welcomes all your questions and recommendations.
We would also like to thank the Open Society Foundation - Sofia for their financial support for the completion of the Where and How Can We Exercise Our Right to Information project and especially for the opportunity to prepare and publish this guide three months after the adoption of the law.

September, 2000
AIP

Read the full text of the handbook: Available: PDF (154k)

 


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English Version • Last Update:10.12.2001 • © 1999 Copyright by Interia & AIP