The right of access to information is an important human right, necessary for the enjoyment of other human rights.
The right to information is essential for transparent and accountable government. The right of access to information makes possible the public involvement in formulating social policies and in the decision-making processes of governance
The right to information can only be effectively exercised and implemented on the basis of laws, regulating this right in accordance with international standards
Evaluation criteria for journalist story:
Six nominations were received for the 2012 Right to Know Day Awards:
1. Mr. Krasen Nikolov from the News Portal Mediapool was nominated by the team of AIP for actively using the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) for a number of publications dealing with issues of great public interest – the pardoning process carried out by the former President, the work of the Ministry of Interior, the work of the Center for Prevention and Countering Corruption and Organized Crime (BORKOR). In his publications, he always refers to the law which helps raise public awareness about its efficiency. Krassen Nikolov also covers the activities of FOI advocates in the country.
Krasen Nikolov was nominated by a colleagu journalist as well (Dorothea Dachkova from Trud Daily). The nomination was specifically for his demand for informaiton and subsequent publishing on issue related to the Ministry of Interior transparency. The nomination referred to the article: Our Police is the Biggest Security Company, 05.04.2012.
2. Mr. Zhivko Konstantinov from Nova TV was nominated for using the APIA in revealing wrongdoings and breach of law in the production and sale of replicas and copies of Bulgarian cultural treasures, like the Panagyurishte Gold Treasure. Relying on the Access to Public Information Act, Konstantinov reveals that such replicas or copies are produced and sold by companies which do not have the license or the permission to do so.
In 2011, it brought a lawsuit against the refusal of the mayor of Smolyan Ms. Dora Yankova to provide access to two contracts on waste disposal and management, which it won definitively in 2012. During the court proceedings, and after receiving the contracts themselves in the summer of 2012, articles were published which analyze the municipal policy with respect to these activities. The publications are based on information obtained under the APIA. Moreover, this fact is emphasized in them, which contributes to the raising of public awareness and encouraging citizens to use the law.
Right after the announcement of the AIP 2012 Active Transparency Rating of the Institutions, the “Otzvuk” newspaper published an article analyzing the positions in the rating of institutions in the Smolyan Region on 21 April 2012.
Thus, the newspaper contributes to the promotion and dissemination of the values ??associated with access to information, transparency of institutions and their accountability to citizens at the local level, which provides a good example.
4. Ms. Doroteya Dachkova from Trud Daily was nominated specifically for her work on the number of the pardoned persons by the President. After an APIA request filed with the legal support of AIP, the journalist was granted access to the number of pardons issued, the grounds for each pardon, initials of the pardoned persons, and the Rules of Procedure of the Pardon Committee. Her publication from February 17, 2012: Marin Pardoned 232 Murderers was the first in a series of media articles on the topic which triggered wide public debate on the process of granting pardon. The media and public campaign brought to opening of the process.
5. Ms. Valya Ahchieva from the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) was nominated for the emission “Otkrito”: Who is violating patients’ rights?, aired on the BNT on 30 November 2011 at 22:00. In the documentary, the author Valya Ahchieva raises the question about the cameras put in operating rooms in one of the Sofia hospitals. She questions if such an action is violation of personal data and private life of the patients or is more in the protection of parients' right as the recording of such a camera may uncover other violations like the switch of the operating team, etc. The video of the surgery room is requested and provided by the hospital under the Access to Public Information Act. The law was presented in the documentary and a balance is sought between the right to freedom of information in the public interest and the protection of personal data.