Tallinn, July 9, 1998. The Estonian Newspaper Association (ENA)
has opened a page on its website, devoted to freedom of information
(FOI). Citizens are urged to fill in a form, making their observations
regarding access to public information. At the end of August, the
ENA will send the responses and proposals to the Interior Ministry,
which is drafting an Access to Public Information Law.
Estonia lacks an Access to Public Information Law, although the
Constitution’s Article 44 refers to one. So far, it is often that
officials say to an information request: “But where is it written
that I have to give this information to you?”.
All too often, an official in possessiion of public information
can rule in a highly arbitrary manner as to what information to
issue to whom and when. This is because of lack of clear rules.
It is easy for a government department to declare documents as “meant
for internal consumption only“.
In order to end the confusing situation, an access to information
law should be written without further delay. The parliament instructed
the government to write one already in 1997 but there has been little
action on the part of the government so far.
The ENA believes that the the proposals from the public submitted
to its FOI page will help the drafters of the law at the Interior
Ministry in their work.
The FOI page is at www.netexpress.ee/eall, in Estonian only.