IDFI has successfully completed another strategic litigation case. The National Archives of Georgia was obliged to provide the public information that the organization has been requesting since June 29, 2018. Information requested by IDFI include the numbers of applicants who had been denied access to the National Archives documents and the relevant legal bases of the refusals.
Initially, Tbilisi City court imposed the obligation to provide information to the National Archives and then Tbilisi Court of Appeals shared the position of the first instance court and upheld the mentioned decision. Nor did the Court of Cassation find the legal arguments of the National Archives convincing, and ultimately ordered it to release public information in favor of IDFI.
During the hearingof the case in the third instance court, Cassator appealed against the decision of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals of January 16, 2020.
After reviewing the case materials and examining the admissibility of the cassation appeal, the Chamber of Administrative Cases of the Supreme Court of Georgia declared the appeal inadmissible. The Chamber pointed out that it shared the legal assessments made by the Court of Appeals, and also considered that a substantively correct decision had been made in the case.
According to the decision, "the accessibility of public information protected in state institutions is an important precondition for effective public control over the activities of the state bodies. Open governance is essential in a democratic society to build trust between state institutions and citizens, to prevent violations, and to detect them in a timely manner. Access to informationthat is stored in a public agency is an important condition for informational self-determination and the right to free development of a person. "
The decision also discusses rights and rules for researchers’ access to the documents of the national archives fund enshrined in the legislation. Court stated that before accessing the documents, the researcher files a written application, which then is recorded in a registration book. Moreover, one of the functions of the National Archives is to collect, proceed and classify statistical and analytical data about organizing the use of archival documents. In view of all the abovementioned, the court considered the appellant’s opinion, that processing of requested information is not within its competence, which excludes the possibility of its issuance, is not based on proper factual and legal grounds and does not substantiate the invalidity of the appealed decision.
The decision emphasizes that IDFI requests to release the information the existence of which has been confirmed by the LEPL "National Archives of Georgia" itself.
This kind of decision of the Supreme Court is important for realization of Freedom of information declared by the constitution, taking into account the gaps of the legislation regulating freedom of information and dire need for substantial reform.
In order to ensure the access to public information, IDFI actively pursues cases at the court level.
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