On February 27, 2019, High Council of Justice (HCoJ) granted the appeal of Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) to abolish its administrative act and obligate the person responsible for public information to provide requested information to IDFI.
On December 13, 2018, IDFI requested public information from the HCoJ. Namely, statistics received from Tbilisi City Court on the number of cases tried by each judge of the court and statistics on the fulfillment of deadlines on case proceedings and preparation of final decisions.
On December 20, 2018, the person responsible for public information of HCoJ illegally refused to provide the requested information to IDFI on the ground that HCoJ did not keep the requested statistics at the time of request.
On January 17, 2019, IDFI appealed the decision and requested the HCoJ to abolish the illegal administrative act, since the decision violated IDFI’s right to access to public information.
Freedom of information is an important part of basic human rights guaranteed by the Constitution that is afterwards realized in the General Administrative Code of Georgia. IDFI requested open, public information according to the legislation. Namely, information stored at a public institution, as well as information received, processed, created or sent by a public institution or public servant in connection with official activities. Everyone may have access to public information available at the administrative body, as public information is open except for cases provided for by the law and information considered to be the state, commercial or professional secrets, or the personal data.
HCoJ is obligated to assess the effectiveness of judges every 6 months. This assessment is done based on certain statistics, some of which were requested by IDFI. Therefore, the requested information was open, public information stored at a public institution and did not contain any information considered to be state, commercial or professional secrets, or the personal data. Hence, HCoJ was obligated by law to disclose this data to IDFI.
During the oral hearing held on February 21, 2019, HCoJ granted the appeal of IDFI. Namely, the administrative act on the refusal to disclose public information was abolished and the person responsible for public information was obligated to provide requested data to IDFI.
IDFI welcomes the fact that HCoJ has met the procedures of appellation of an administrative act and that it takes into consideration its accountability according to the law. We hope that HCoJ will consider this a precedential case and ensure unrestricted access to public information in the future.
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