Subject: Turkish Right to Information Assessment (Review) Council started to publish its decisions.
BilgiEdinmeHakki.Org (www.bilgiedinmehakki.org), a Turkish pressure group, played a crucial role in ensuring that the decisions of the Turkish Right to Information Assessment (Review) Council are finally made public. BilgiEdinmeHakki.Org has lodged several freedom of information requests to the Turkish Council since August 2004 (requests dated: 03/08/2004, 29/06/2005, 16/02/2006, 21/02/2007) but the Council either failed to publish, or denied access to its decisions.
However, the Council decided to change its policy in terms of the publications of its decisions following BilgiEdinmeHakki.Org’s most recent request dated 21 February, 2007. It was revealed that the Council will start publishing all its decisions from 09 March, 2007, the day the Council’s decision (B.02.0.BHİ.796.001/203) was sent to BilgiEdinmeHakki.Org.
The Council in its reponse to BilgiEdinmeHakki.Org revealed that it has made 2475 decisions in relation to freedom of information appeals from the members of the public between 24/05/2004 – 26/02/2007.Until 09 March, 2007 only 74 of these were made available, and these were published in December 2004. Since then no further decisions of the Council were made public. On 09 March, 2007 the Council published 28 of its 69 decision books containing 641 decisions out of the 2475 decisions (roughly 495 pages in length). These involve the decisions made by the Council between 07. 06.2004 and 15.06.2005.
BilgiEdinmeHakki.Org requested further information from the Council on 12 March, 2007 in terms of when the remaining 41 decision books containing approximately 1834 decisions made by the Council between 15.06.2005 and 26.02.2007 will be made public.
BilgiEdinmeHakki.Org also requested detailed statistics from the Council and the following information was provided:
- Total number of appeal applications to the Council between 24/05/2004 – 26/02/2007: 2,676
- Number of applications proceeded: 2,321
- Number of applications rejected: 355
- Total Number of Council decisions between 24/05/2004 – 26/02/2007: 2,475
- Total Number of successful appeals: 977
- Total Number of partially successful appeals: 419
- Total number of rejected appeals: 888
- Total number of appeals in which further review was necessary: 10
- Total number of appeal applications to be discussed by the Council: 213
Despite limited resources, BilgiEdinmeHakki.Org will start a new project assessing the decisions of the Turkish Right to Information Assessment Council. Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, on the behalf of the Turkish pressure group stated that “despite considerable and unacceptable delay, the publication of the Council’s decisions is a significant step towards openness and transparency in Turkey. We are now in a better position to assess the work of the Council as well as the functioning of the Turkish Right to Information Act 2003 (No: 4982). However, the remaining decisions need to be published swiftly and further requests for information has already been lodged with the Council to ensure that.”
Contact: Dr. Yaman Akdeniz & Av. Avniye Tansuğ – firstname.lastname@example.org
This press release will be available through: http://www.bilgiedinmehakki.org/en/
A PDF version of this release is also available at http://www.bilgiedinmehakki.org/doc/2007_01ENG.pdf
The Council’s decisions can be obtained through http://www.basbakanlik.gov.tr/sour.ce/index.asp?wpg=detay&did=838831BA-3CA1-4403-8789-CBF96C7A8B19 – These are provided only in Turkish.
A PDF single document version of the Council decisions (in Turkish) is available athttp://www.bilgiedinmehakki.org/doc/BEDK_kararlar.pdf
BilgiEdinmeHakki.Org (www.bilgiedinmehakki.org ) has been set up as a pressure group on 09 October, 2003, the day the Turkish Government enacted the Right to Information Act 2003 (No: 4982) to ensure that the Act is effectively used by the Turkish citizens and a greater degree of openness and transparency is established in Turkey as part of its democratization. Bilgi Edinme Hakki stands for Right to Information in Turkish, and the name of the organisation is based upon the Turkish Act.
Right to Information Act 2003
The Turkish Parliament enacted the Right to Information Act 2003, Bilgi Edinme Hakki Kanunu (No: 4982) in October 2003. The Right to Information Act 2003 came into force six months after the date of its publication on 24 April, 2004.
Right to Information Assessment (Review) Council
The formation of the Right to Information Assessment (Review) Council was required by article 14 of the Turkish Act and the Council reviews the administrative decisions rendered under the Act and makes decisions on the exercise of the right to information regarding public authorities.
The Procedure for Appeal
Within 15 days starting from the official notification from a public institution, an applicant whose request for access to information is rejected, may appeal to the Council before appealing for judicial review. The law requires that the Council shall render a decision within 30 days.