Accessing public documents
Would you like to know where your municipality is spending money, or would you like to analyze the contract with the company that is building the road in your neighborhood? You should know that the Law on Access to Public Documents enables you to have access to official documents of public institutions, with some exceptions. Access is limited to documents that could endanger security, hinder investigation processes, violate privacy or commercial rights, etc. The law foresees that if public institutions do not provide citizens with access to documents as provided for by law, then they may be fined by an amount of EUR 5,000 to EUR 10,000. The public officer who is in charge may also be punished by an amount of 500 EUR up to 1,000 EUR. The Law on Access to Public Documents also obliges public institutions to publish on their web pages as many documents as they can, including here information on the institution, legislation at effect, strategies and policies, procedures, application forms, etc.
The Law on Access to Public Documents stipulates well-defined procedures on how the right of access to documents can be applied. You must submit a request for access, which, depending on your wish, can be anonymous for third parties. In case the institution to which you are submitting the request is not responsible for the information, then the given institution should forward your request to the relevant institution within five working days. The institution admits and registers the request and must make a decision within seven days to permit or deny the access. If the institution fails to respond within the legal time limit then it is considered a negative response and gives the applicant the right to initiate proceedings before the Ombudsperson Institution or other relevant institutions.
The Ombudsperson Institution is the institution that is entrusted by law to assist citizens in the process of gaining access to official documents that institutions refuse to make public to its citizens. The services provided by the Ombudsperson are free of charge. Additionally, if your right to access official documents is violated, then you can address this issue to a Competent Court.