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Guarding the Right to Information – Improving in Civic Control

The Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (SLLGO) undertook a task of educating freedom of information watchdogs in 2009/2010.

An inauguration of a FOI Watchdog School, was held in a form of a panel discussion participated by:

  • Teresa Górzyńska, PhD – Institute of Law Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences; specializing in the right to information,
  • Grażyna Kopińska – the Director of The Anti-Corruption Program by the Stefan Batory Foundation,
  • Henryk Wujec – a deputy of the Parliamentary Committee which passed the Access to Public Information Act in 2001,
  • Zenon Michajłowski – a member of our Association and one of the first people to use the new act and to start calling cases.

During next months the School members took part in the following specialist sessions:

  • an in-depth training on the right to information and procedures for accessing public information conducted by Michał Bernarczyk, PhD an adjunct in the Department of Constitutional Law at the Faculty of Law, Administration and Economics of the University of Wroclaw, specializing in the right to information;
  • a training in criminal procedure and criminal responsibility under article 23 of the Access to Public Information Act directed by attorney at law Jan Stefanowicz, an author of one of the first handbooks dedicated to the usage of The Access to Public Information Act published by Transparency International Polska; he belonged to the group of journalists raising the issue of introducing the act;
  • a training in administrative law, including: Administrative Procedure Code concerning denial of access to public information; proceedings before Administrative Courts concerning complaints about procedures on access to public information conducted by Krzysztof Wąsowski, PhD of the University of Warsaw;
  • a lecture on case law concerning access to public information given by Mirosława Rozbicka-Ostrowska, a judge of Supreme Administrative Court and the author of commentary on The Access to Public Information Act;
  • a training dedicated to Law on Protection of Classified Information (ustawa o ochronie informacji niejawnych) as an element limiting access to public information ran by dr Tomasz Szewc, an adjunct at the University of Silesia in Katowice and the author of commentary on Law on Protection of Classified Information;
  • a training dedicated to the re-use of public information directed by Wojciech Wiewiórowski, PhD who during the School was Director of the Computerisation Department, but currently is holding position of Inspector General for the Protection of Personal Data;
  • a training dedicated to access to environmental information conducted by Piotr Szkudlarek, a lawyer specializing in access to environmental information;
  • a lecture about the secret of an entrepreneur as a prerequisite for limiting access to public information delivered by an attorney at law Artur Kmieciak, who is handling a case of Janosik programme creators (a programme which enables sending insurance documents to Social Insurance Institution) – an alternative to the ZUS (Social Insurance Institution) ‘Płatnik’ programme – concerning release of the source code;
  • a lecture on a meaning of the constitutional right to information given by Marcin Wiącek, PhD from the Department of Constitutional Law at the University of Warsaw.

Afterwards members of the School done a monitoring and executed strategic litigations under a jointly planned methodology. The subject matter of the monitoring included:

Scope of the right to information:

  • information gathered for the purpose of bringing out newspapers by gminas (communes),
  • applications submitted by non-governmental organizations implemented within Measure 5.4. of the Human Capitale Operational Programme (POKL).

The modes of access to information (along with checkig to what extent the right to know is free of charge):

  • requesting floor plans of a commune office building on A3 size paper,
  • requesting minutes from the authorities’ meetings on a CD,
  • requesting public information via an e-mail with a signature,
  • requesting public information via an e-mail without a signature (an anonym),
  • requesting public information through a telephone call,
  • requesting public information on an application form created by an office,
  • requesting public information in person in an office.

As a consequence of the prosecuted legal and administrative proceedings:


  • Ministry of Labour and Social Policy made available applications of POKL submitted in one of the contests;
  • The Provincial Administrative Court in Szczecin handed down a decision that a floor plan is public information;
  • The Provincial Administrative Court in Gliwice acknowledged complaint regarding idleness in pursuing the application verbally and via an e-mail.



Translated voluntary by Małgorzata Lubieniecka













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