The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) has filed a constitutional complaint to the Constitutional Court (registration N857). IDFI believes that the existing regulation of access to court decisions contradict the Constitution of Georgia.
The legal norms under dispute define the rules for requesting documents containing personal data from public institutions, including decisions of common courts. According to the disputed regulations, court decisions containing personal data may not be disclosed if the applicant is able to directly or indirectly identify persons involved in a decision.
According to the Constitution of Georgia, court hearings are public. Hearing shall be held in camera under exceptional circumstances. The disputed norms prohibit the disclosure of court decisions containing personal data even in cases when decision was publicly announced.
In addition the disputed regulations profibit disclosure of court decisions even when there is high public interest related to the cases in question, for example, those of the former / current high-ranking officials.
Considering the fact that all court decisions contain personal data, the disputed norms effectively allow for non-disclosure of any court decision.
IDFI believes that access to court decisions is an essential component of the transparency of and trust in the judiciary. For this purpose, the public must have access not only to the general court practice, but also to the argumentation used by a judge when rendering decision on any specific case.
Therefore, IDFI finds that Articles 44 and 28 (Paragraph 1) of the General Administrative Code of Georgia, as well as Articles 5 and 6 (Paragraphs 1 and 3) of the Law on Personal Data Protection contradict Article 41 of the Constitution and should be declared unconstitutional.
The constitutional complaint was prepared as part of the project Increasing Access to Judicial Decisions in Georgia, being implemented by IDFI with the support of the East-West Management Institute (EWMI) under the Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia (PROLoG) Program, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The project aims to improve the legal framework and practice of access to court decisions in Georgia, bearing in mind the balance between access to judicial information and protection of personal data.
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