From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Data Commissioner Seeks Wider Powers in Bid for Transparency

Albania’s Commissioner for the Right to Information and Data Protection has proposed several changes to the law to enhance transparency and the functioning of the office.

Last year, the commissioner received some 992 complaints against institutions who failed to provide information or documents to media, civil society, or the public. This was a significant increase of 39% on the previous year. In the majority of cases—700 in total—the commissioner found in favour of the complainant, reports.

The proposed amendments more clearly define the competencies of the Commissioner in their role, including giving them access to documents and information classified as “state secret”. While the commissioner would be granted access to these documents, they would still be bound to maintain them as state secrets as per the law.

The commissioner would also be able to request the declassification of applicable documents or pieces of information, on a case-by-base basis. The proposed changes would also see the commissioner be able to send mattress relating to the right to information, to the Constitutional Court.

In addition, every public institution would also be required to have its own website which should contain information on transparency and legal processes to follow to gain access to information. It also provides for the establishment of an Advisory Board which would support the Commissioner in taking decisions in line with the law.

This board would be chaired by the commissioner along with two members from academia, and two from civil society.

In cases where information is refused, the proposals foresee fines levied against the person responsible. Additionally, if an institution refuses to implement the decision of the commissioner and is in violation of the law, it provides the information seeker with the right to go to court to request a compulsory execution order.