The story below is a great strategic case in favor of transparency. BRRLN is sharing it to serve as motivation and encouragement to those who seek justice in the judicial system.
Citizens face a number of challenges in accessing public documents from state-level government institutions. Non-response to requests for public documents is common. Under the law, non-response is considered a denial of the request. The recourse for citizens when their requests are denied is to file a claim with the Administrative Division of the Basic Court. The Administrative Division can take up to three years to consider a claim, which may be determinative of whether a citizen files an appeal to the court. Reports indicate that the state’s response rate to public records requests is improving – from 30% in 2012 to 40% in 2013. Overall, state response to public records requests remains low.
The court in Kosovo issued two unprecedented decisions in May and June 2015, which embolden the public’s right to both access information and hold government officials accountable to the people. The result of more than three years of work on the part of journalists, civil society, and legal professionals, these decisions highlight that even the most powerful state institutions will be held to the highest standards of transparency and accountability.
The Justice and the People Campaign filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of Kosovo seeking an order requiring the Office of the Prime Minister to provide public access to records showing how the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers have spent public funds during official trips. This case, which was brought on behalf of BIRN, challenges the refusal of the Office of the Prime Minister to release these records in response to public records requests. The Office of the Prime Minister has claimed that providing public access to the records would violate the personal privacy of the officials in question. The appeal demonstrates that under the Kosovo Constitution and the Law on Access to Public Documents, Kosovar citizens have a right of public access to official records showing exactly how public officials spend public money.
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