The Slovenia Times

Officials Stress Importance of Access to Public Information


Information Commissioner Mojce Prelesnik described access to public information as a basic human right and said that she felt awareness about this was rising.

She highlighted as a key problem the occasional failure of state institutions to store certain data, which is particularly problematic in fields such as environmental protection, healthy food and consumer protection.

These are areas where citizens can effectively contribute to the management of public affairs, Prelesnik said.

This was echoed Human Rights Ombudsman Nussdorfer, who argued access to such data prevented corruption and raised the quality of life.

The situation was meanwhile portrayed as much more problematic at a rally organised in Ljubljana today by TI Slovenia, where the focus was on pending legislative changes that include an extra charge for providing publicly accessible information.

TI secretary general Vid Doria explained that authorities subject to providing such information could demand not only a reimbursement of material costs but also a fee for the work performed as part of the procedure.

"This simply means disabling the part of society performing oversight over public institutions. It means that an organisation like TI Slovenia would need to potentially pay several thousand euros to obtain public data," he said, calling for systemic changes that would provide for sustainable access.

TI Slovenia's campaign has been endorsed by the Slovenian Journalists' Association (DNS), which believes that public servants are obliged to provide public information, because public information is gained with taxpayer money and because public servants are paid with public money.

The DNS said in a press release that public information must not be commercial goods, adding that an expensive charge for access to public information discouraged citizens from asking for such information.


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