For the seventh successive year Access to Information Programme (AIP) held the annual Right to Know Day Awards Ceremony in Bulgaria.
More than hundred people attended the 2009 Right to Know Day Awards Ceremony organized and held by Access to Information Programme (AIP)on 28 September in the Bulgarian News Agency, Sofia. The ceremony was broadcast live on Internet. More than 50 media – national and local – covered the event.
The awards committee selected the winners in the 7 categories out of 80 nominations.
1. Citizen, who has most actively exercised his right to information
A Golden Key award was given to Mr. Dimo Karabashev – a student from the New Bulgarian University. He has sought public information which is of particular importance to disabled people. He has submitted requests for information to the Automobile Administration, Minister of Transport, Minister of Interior, the Chairperson of the Disabled People Agency. Mr. Karabashev found out violation of safety technical requirements in Sofia public transport.
Honorary Diplomas in the same category were given to:
Ms. Kalina Pavlova, an architect from the town of Varna who raised an important issue for all citizens related to illegal construction of in the city park of the town.
Mr. Rosko Simov from the town of Shumen. Mr. Simov was recognized for his persistency to bring his information case to an end and force the mayor of the Municipality of Shumen to execute a court decision which obliged the latter to release the information.
2. Non-governmental organization, which has most actively exersized its access to information right
The Association for Optimization of Justice and Administration SOPA (the abbreviation means “a club”) was recognized with the Golden Key award for a nongovernmental organization which has most actively exercised its right to information. The NGO actively uses the Access to Public Information Act (APIA), publishes all requests on its web site, the answers they receive from administrative bodies, as well as the documents received.
Honorary Diplomas were given to:
The Association of Parks in Bulgaria for active use of the APIA to seek for environmental information, for starting access to information litigation and extensive popularization of revealed wrongdoings.
The Bulgarian Association for Encouraging Civil Initiatives, Burgas was also recognized with a diploma for active seeking of information in the preparation of local referenda, and for the preparation of the first report on access to information in the Municipality of Burgas.
3. Best journalist story/campaign/publication related to the access to information right
The Golden Key award for most active use of the APIA in journalistic investigations and publications was given to Mr. Diyan Nikolov from Sega daily. He was recognized for his investigation of misappropriation and wrongdoings related to the public procurements of the Ministry of Defense.
Honorary diplomas were given to:
Ms. Pavlina Trifonova from 24 Hours daily for using actively the law to obtain information from the Council of Ministers, for litigating and covering the development of these cases in the media.
Ms. Zdravka Maslyankova - a journalist from the local newspaper Yantra dnes. Ms. Maslyankova uses the law to obtain information from local government bodies. On the base of several requests, she publishes about the preparation of the municipality for the winter period, an important issue for the local community.
Mr. Konstantin Karadjov from bTV for his “Ministers on Business Trip” shown in bTV Reporters which popularized the access law as a successful tool to find out wrongdoings.
Capital weekly as a media which has most systematically and efficiently popularized the right of access to information.
4. Institution, which has most efficiently organized the provision of public information
The Golden Key award for an institution was given to the Ministry of Finance. The nomination was made by a citizen who received a lot of copies of loan and procurement contracts requested by him within three years. Ministry of Finance established a good system of information management and developed its web site in line of the access law requirements.
The new Council of Ministers (after the general elections in July 2009) was recognized with an Honorary Diploma for making accessible online its legal information system. Minutes, protocols, decisions are already accessible online. It was recognized as an important step towards transparency. In 2001, AIP supported in court the first case of a journalist who had requested the minutes from a session of the Council of Ministers. In 2001, that information was refused.
5. Best web-site of an institution with regard to the Access to Public Information Act
The East-Aegean Sea River Basin Directorate, Plovdiv was recognized again this time as having the most FOI friendly web-site. Besides the proactive publication of all information related to the activities of the institution, a register of requests, and a report on the implementation of the APIA, they have created a Facebook group The Right to Know.
Two municipalities were recognized for violating citizens’ right to information.
The Padlock this year was given to the Municipality of Razgrad for its systematical obstruction of citizens to obtain information, for overcharging for the release of documents, and for not maintaining the public registers in the municipality.
A Dishonorary Diploma was given to the Municipality of Varna for obstruction of citizens’ right to know.
For the first time ever, a representative of the institution recognized for giving the funniest answer in response to an information request was present at the ceremony and received the Tied Key award. The PR officer from the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications received the award and promised that all information requested from the ministry would be provided. She expressed a desire the Ministry to be nominated for a positive award for the 2010 Right to Know Day Awards.
AIP organized and held the Right to Know Day Awards Ceremony in Bulgaria for the seventh successive year. The organization and holding of the 2009 Right to Know Day in Bulgaria is supported by a grant from the Trust for Civil Society in CEE. Presents to the winners were donated by CIELA Soft and Publishing and the wine for the party after the ceremony was donated by Damianitza JSC.