Tirana, The 6th National Conference on the Right to Information -

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Bulevardi "Dëshmoret e Kombit",
Pallati i Kongreseve, Kati ll,
Tiranë, Shqipëri.


Bulevardi "Dëshmoret e Kombit",
Pallati i Kongreseve, Kati ll,
Tiranë, Shqipëri.

Tirana, The 6th National Conference on the Right to Information

The VI National Conference on the Right to Information, co-organized by the Commissioner for the Right to Information and Protection of Personal Data and the Minister of State for Public Administration and Anticorruption, is taking place today.

The conference brings together public authorities, experts and representatives of civil society at a discussion table and will serve to deepen the critical role of access to information according to the principles of transparency, inclusiveness and accountability.


Prime Minister Edi Rama’s speech: Greetings everyone!

This is the 6th National Conference on the Right to Information and it is the first time that I am participating, because I want to take advantage of this opportunity, first to evaluate with great respect and gratitude the work and office of the Commissioner, who has honored Albania in the process of negotiations for membership in the European Union, where Albania underwent a very in-depth diagnosis by the European Commission, which is otherwise known as “screening”.

This moment of brilliance of an institution of the Republic of Albania in that process, as well as the entirety of the process where Albania received extremely positive and surprising evaluations are a very strong reason to understand on the one hand how much more can be done, but also to take into account on the other hand that we have the necessary forces to do the things that can be done; if we didn’t have them it would be impossible for Albania to come out with so much dignity and with so much success in the whole diagnostic process by the European Commission which for all those here who have participated in this process know very well, it is an extremely difficult exercise, extremely technical and objective and definitely for all these reasons, extremely challenging.

To come to the reason for my presence here and to continue with the other aspects of this reason, apart from the appreciation and respect for the Commissioner’s office, there are some things that really impress me; how many of the things which appear to us and are pointed out to us either by the public or by the parties with whom we interact as defects, can be repaired without any particular difficulty and without taking too much of a long time.

I am starting from a fact which is underlined in the classification of Access Info Europe, which is the institution, agency, body that deals with the evaluation of legislation for transparency and the right to information as a whole. Albania was 86th in the classification until in 2014 we took the first serious step by transforming our legal base and today, if you click, you will find Albania in the seventh place, in terms of legislation. Related to the gap between the legislation and the implementation of the legislation, when one hears that 70% of the complaints about the lack of right or the violation of the right to information that come to the Commissioner’s office are complaints that are fulfilled after the Commissioner’s office is set in motion and asks the relevant institution to inform the citizen or certain interest group.

I think that this and some other aspects that prevent us as a country, that as we are the seventh in terms of legislation, we are still at a much higher level than today in terms of guaranteeing the right to information for all, are fruits that can be caught without much effort and without looking for a ladder to climb step by step.

Another thing that is very impressive is that still today there is a dominant mentality in the administration that providing information is an unnecessary exposure, while providing information on decision-making, on actions translated into decisions which are there and it is absolutely dramatic as well as humorous, when receiving information, that is, receiving documents that are practically written, signed, protocolled and that exist and releasing it to the public, this is presented as a discovery: “I found a document”.

In fact, that document is not the property of anyone in the institution, it is not the property of the next government, but it is public property and as public property it should be accessible. The lawn of all the documentation in the Albanian institutions is like a public park, accessible to everyone and even here I believe that we can make a very fast progress.

The third thing I want to say is that there is no more efficient way to counter disinformation by informing more, there is no more direct, more democratic and definitely more confrontational way to counter disinformation, than increasing information. Disinformation grows daily, while the information based on what exists, is in black and white, signed, sealed. Certainly, the coordinators are important at this stage, but this is an issue that we have to face by totally mechanizing it and making it completely impossible for the institutions to withdraw information.

Fortunately, we live in a time when technology is a blessing for countries like ours to compensate for the backwardness associated with the lack of tradition of the state with technological development and as much technology and as much space as possible unaffected by the subjectivity of one and the other we create for the data, for all those data that are public property, the more we will be able to help the public, but also help our country to climb to another level and it is completely possible!

The other thing I want to say is that treating information that belongs to the public, belongs to the media, belongs to all interested parties as a right sanctioned by law while it is treated as a power exercised abusively over all those I mentioned, is without discussion a space or an impetus to create a lot of mystery, to create a lot of rumors, to create a lot of poison on the facts and then to allow all kinds of speculation when in fact, the facts are what they are.

The right to information and the provision of information are not investigative secrets. Investigative secrecy is something else, but even here I take advantage of the opportunity to thank the Ombudsman and to stand in solidarity with the Ombudsman regarding a case of a journalist who was accused and mistreated for revealing investigative secrecy.

It also happened at a certain moment, if I am not mistaken, during the time of the pandemic, when the prosecutor’s office was somewhat behind journalists, and for me, journalists do not release investigative secrets because journalists do not have investigative secrets. Investigative secrets are available to the prosecutors so that when the journalist gets hold of the secret, it is no longer his obligation to keep the secret and the investigation does not go to him, but to those who gave it to him. This is written in black and white in Kanun: “the newsman is not to blame”.

Why do I say this? I say this to underline that the information on everything that public institutions do and on everything that exists on paper with a signature, with a seal and that is not included in that very narrow space that the law defines as a space not accessible to the public, is public property. It is a public property that the state has no right to deny to the citizens.

And since I referred to the Ombudsman, I am referring to the President of the Constitutional Court because it seems to me an example to follow that the Constitutional Court does not leave a single day to speculation, but immediately publishes its decisions and not only that, but I have noticed more than in one case, the president of the Constitutional Court herself explains her decisions. These are examples to be replicated everywhere and definitely, as Adea said, the institutions have their information sheets, have their websites, have all the necessary tools, but I am convinced that if investigative journalists would go through the websites of the institutions today, they would find many reasons to laugh and make fun of how backward the information can be, and maybe they would also find there managers who are no longer at work at all, and again this is a responsibility of the institutions. It is ridiculous to think and live with the old idea or still be hostage to that old culture that the state knows some things that others shouldn’t know. These are not the rights of the state, they are the rights of the citizen and these documents are not the property of the state, they are public property. The state must preserve them for citizens, as it preserves and guarantees public property, as it preserves and guarantees public order.

In the end, I want to say that concretely I think it is time for us to create a national board or national committee, I have a bit of a problem with this word committee, because of the committees we grew up with, but also because of the fact that I have seen in my experience since I got into the vortex of government in the late 90s many committees and I have participated in some of them, and it seemed to me that they are created to not solve problems.

That is why I say that it is time to have a national board with the participation of the government, the local government, I have noticed that the level of transparency and the right to information, though there has been a significant improvement this year, more precisely in 2023 compared to 2022, at the local level it is still problematic. Together with the Commissioner, with the Ombudsman, and of course also with other institutions, of course also with the National Agency of the Information Society, with the Agency for Dialogue and Co-Governance that can certainly play a role at this point and with other institutions that we will be open to receive as a suggestion simply to jointly monitor this whole process of transparency and ensuring the right to information because at the end of the day it is very clear that for the most part the problem is not that there is a will not to provide information, the problem is that there is not an awareness of providing information in real time and this, as the commissioner said, definitely erodes the trust of citizens, this opens whole riverbeds for the sludge of disinformation or misinformation.

Every government decision, every institutional decision, every part of the documentation of every agreement, of every contractual relationship that does not enter that narrow space of confidentiality, must be public and our common ambition must be that at the end of this year to have a reversal of all unsatisfactory data content for public access to information and for guaranteeing the right to information.

I am very grateful once again to all the staff of the Commissioner, the Commissioner personally, and I really hope and I believe very much that we will succeed in this and then since it is the first conference that I have come and I have made 5 absences, I will I ask the Commissioner to hold an interim conference between the 6th and 7th at the end of the year or early next year to make a presentation of this reversal. The right of information should not be discussed, there is no room for discussion, it should simply and only be implemented. Thank you!

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