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VOA: Respect for the right to information is encouraged at the local level
The Commissioner for the Right to Information and Protection of Personal Data in Albania launched a campaign at the local level to promote the treatment of problems faced by citizens, media and civil society related to the implementation of this law.
According to the assessments of independent organizations, the media and citizens still have limited access to public documents, and the campaign aims to increase the responsibility, especially of local governments.
The Ministry of Justice has prepared amendments to the Law on the Right to Information, while the courts have recently increased the level of services related to information for both citizens and the media.
In the premises of the court of Gjirokastra, the data related to the citizens' right to information have been widely displayed. In addition to the website, a notification point is updated every day with the calendar of court sessions, but there are also other innovations after the judicial reform, says the chancellor of the court, Donalda Feruni.
"Next to our court is the media judge, which is an innovation for the court of general jurisdiction of the first instance. There is also an office for communication with citizens that is assisted in the court of the judicial district in Gjirokastër by an experienced journalist, providing the public with all the information required according to the norms of the law on the right to information."
But quite a few other public institutions have problems with the right to information and the protection of personal data.
Reports from both the European Commission and international organizations estimate that access to public data and documents continues to be limited in Albania.
Commissioner for the Right to Information Besnik Devishi says that the institution he leads has launched a campaign at the local level in cooperation with the OSCE Presence in Albania to increase awareness of the implementation of the Law on the Right to Information and Protection of Personal Data .
The project is spread over three components. The first component is awareness where we distribute materials related to these two basic human rights. The second component is the meeting that we hold with the representatives of the local government bodies at the district level and beyond, but also with the representatives of the central institutions at the local level, also with the sensibilities of civil society and the media, and the third component is the way that by the commissioner or even the inspectors of the Commissioner's office near public authorities to handle together concrete cases related to the right to information and the transparency of public authorities.
The transparency of public authorities is strongly demanded, says Mr. Dervishi.
“Autoritetet publike duhet ta kultivojnë transpancën për dy qëllime , e para për t`i ardhur në ndihmë qytetarit, sepse kjo është një e drejtë e qytetarit, por nga ana tjetër edhe për vetë autoritetet publike , per titullarin për punonjësit, për të gjithë stafin e autoritetit publike sepse duke qenë transparent mundet që autoritetet publike të bëjnë edhe punë të mira. Nëse nuk janë transparent nuk i reflektojnë ato. Pra per punët e mira që bëjnë autoritetet publike nuk kanë asnjë arsye pse të neglizhojnë transparencën dhe të përballen me publikun.
Zoti Devishi vlerëson mjaft të rëndësishëm rolin e qeverive vendore si për transparencën edhe për llogaridhënien. Zgjedhjet vendore të Majit pas katër vitesh risjellin në Shqipëri pjesëmarrjen e opozitët në këshillat bashkiakë. Në këto këshilla pritet të rritet niveli i debatit, thotë zoti Dervishi.
"Perhaps the debate will increase, even a political, healthy, professional debate, a debate about the problems of the community that these council members represent. Discussions and healthy political debate positively influence the expansion of transparency."
The Ministry of Justice and the Commissioner for the Right to Information have recently presented new amendments to the Law on the Right to Information and Protection of Personal Data, which are expected to be approved by the Parliament.
The changes, among other things, provide that the Commissioner for the Right to Information, after the administrative investigation, can impose fines on the head of the institution or the officials responsible for not providing information./Voa