On 09 August, 2004 BilgilenmeHakki.Org published a report in PDF format about the Turkish Right to Information Assessment (Review) Council. Following a BilgilenmeHakki.Org investigation the following conclusions are made in the report:
• The Turkish Right to Information Act is in force.
• A considerable number of public institutions established their freedom of information units and started to accept access to information requests including through the Internet.
• The public started to use their right to information and several thousands of requests have been made to public institutions.
• The members of the Right to Information Assessment (Review) Council have been identified, and the Council have been established.
• With the publication of this report it is now public knowledge that the Council is fully functional and deals with appeals.
• So far the Council dealt with 73 appeals and 29 of these have been investigated and decided.
However, following this BilgilenmeHakki.Org investigation further significant questions are raised:
• There is no other publicly available document which provides the contact details of the Right to Information Assessment (Review) Council apart from this BilgilenmeHakki.Org report. So how will the public lodge appeals if necessary?
• Why does not the Council have an established website?
• Why is not the Council subject to the same regulations as laid down above in so far as the implementation plan is concerned? The public institutions were required to launch their websites by 27 June, 2004. Why does not this regulation apply to the Council?
• Why doesn’t the Council make public its decisions?
The enactment of a right to information law is a significant step towards openness, transparency, and democratisation in Turkey. Within such a short time, a considerable number of public institutions established their freedom of information units and the Act is fully functional. However, there are significant problems and question marks about the establishment of the Right to Information Assessment (Review) Council. It is unfortunate that we can only get information about the Council via a right to information request to the Prime Ministry.
BilgilenmeHakki.Org therefore recommends that
• The Right to Information Assessment (Review) Council is immediately brought to sunshine.
• The Council publishes its decisions and provides reasons for rejected appeals.
• The public institutions are informed about the whereabouts of the Council and that they provide the public information about how to appeal to the Right to Information Assessment (Review) Council if necessary.
BilgilenmeHakki.Org will make its recommendations to the Prime Ministry with the publication of this report and will continue to monitor the developments in Turkey.