ANOTHER 106 ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS (WITH JUDGEMENTS)
The free access to information is the prerequisite of the free decision-making process and democracy. In the Czech Republic it is guaranteed by the Act N.106/1999 Coll. The real owners of all information gathered and created by authorities are citizens. They can ask for them whenever they want. They can know why was a matter decided one way or the other so that they could knowledgeably and ergo freely decide to whom they will give the vote in the next election.
Thus the access to information makes a real undepreciated citizen from an anonymous person in the wheels of bureaucracy. The bureaucratic monopoly over information also gives exceptional power to the public officials as well as public administration employees. It thus creates the environment in which minor as well as extensive corruption flourishes. That‘ s why the access to information and citizen´s interest in them works as the remedy against ineconomy, inequality and abuse of status.
Nevertheless, the access to information is only one part of "the public administration openness". The remaining parts are transparency in the decision making process (possibility for citizens to see how was a decision made including procedures, grounds, voting, and so on.) Participation in the decision making process (possibility to supply suggestions to a matter, to know what will be solved, etc.), and the right to disseminate information (e.g. balance of opinions in a bulletin published by municipality). It also involves the conflict of interests and anticorruption measures.
This publication is a follow-up to the "106 answers to your questions" booklet, published in 2001. Both these publications originated as a complex of questions brought by citizens in the consulting room of a server specialized in freedom of information www.otevrete.cz and the answers to them.
Another 106 answers to your questions (with judgements) (download Adobe Reader, 1,73 MB)
In the first part we present basics of the access to information, a sort of "ABC". It was created as an extract from the previous handbook (106 Answers to Your Questions, the Open Society, b. a., Prague 2001) which in 106 answers surveyed the basic spheres of citizen´s and official´s interest expressed in our Consulting room throughout 2000-2002. Although there were 3, 000 pieces published and distributed free of charge to the interested people, it was hopelessly passed out. For that reason we reprint it in this edition only in the condensed shape as simple answers YES/NO (the first part of booklet). The entire answers are still available on the website of our project www.otevrete.cz.
The second part of this publication responds in detail for the new requests from 2002-2004. The inquiries do not revolve around the access to information. They are more and more related to the wider concept of the "transparency of authorities". You ask about minutes from the negotiations of authorities, about a municipality bulletin publishing, about the cross of interests. The interest of officials and public is more concrete, it often involves elaborately structured cases. The phenomenon of the access to information freedom and public administration openness can be nearly a detective discipline. The application of these rights on different situations brought by life (especially in villages) is various and sometimes surprising. The inquiries suggest that the level of unjustified withholding information at the Czech authorities, their secretiveness, unawareness of the legal situation and keeping to the long obsolete state of the "public administration closeness" originated from the times of the Austrian- Hungarian Empire is still very high.
The most often type of authority that we are asked about are towns and villages. That is why the second part begins with them. The following are inquiries according to further aspects. It is so possible to find more inputs to one question in different groups of answers.