April 14. 2024. 6:51

The Daily

Read the World Today

Albania struggled with transparency in 2022

At least 1,081 complaints were made to the Albanian Commissioner for the Right to Information and Protection of Personal Data in 2022, particularly on reconstruction following the 2019 earthquake and public-private partnerships during the pandemic.

A report published by the institution for 2022 highlighted the hot topics most requested by media and civil society, for which transparency was rejected by institutions. The 2022 figures demonstrated a 10% increase from the 992 complaints made the year before.

These included information on funds and processes relating to property reconstruction following the 2019 earthquake that killed 51 people and saw more than €1 billion given to Albania through an EU funding platform. Public-private partnerships related to the pandemic, including purchasing equipment and other related medical materials, were also popular.

Other common requests related to “international arbitration, procurements, judicial decisions, and statistical data on the activity of public authorities,” the report said.

Out of all the complaints, more than half saw the data handed over to the complainants during the investigation process. The rest were resolved through additional formal steps.

“Out of a total of 1,081 complaints, for 643 of them, the requested information/documentation was made available to the complainants during the development of the administrative investigation process by the Commissioner’s Office. Also, the Commissioner’s Office has issued 51 decisions for 61 complaints. From these decisions, 35 decisions were given to order information, nine decisions to overturn, 4 decisions not to accept and three decisions with administrative sanction,” the report reads.

The Commission highlighted that some delays and issues were caused by the multiple cyber attacks Albania was subjected to during 2022, which brought a number of government systems to a standstill. However, they also observed instances where the law on the right to information was not respected, particularly about confidentiality clauses.

“Public contracts often provide confidentiality provisions for the information/documentation related to them, and in case of non-implementation, sanctions are provided for PAs. In order to avoid this problem, it is necessary to clarify in the confidentiality clauses which part of the information they cover, considering that it cannot prevail over the provisions of the law on the right to information, except when provided for in the specific law,” says the report.

There were also cases where the request was delegated between institutions, despite the requested information being available. Another element, according to the report, is the frequent change of the coordinator for information, his or her assignment at the executive or lower management level, as well as the limitation of access to other PA structures.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)