December 5, 2001
Ms. Kozeta Fino
Re: Your reply of November 19, 2001 (prot. no. 3139/1)
Dear Ms. Fino,
Thank you for your reply of November 19, 2001 regarding our application for access to copies of the documentation related to the public bid organized by your agency for advertisements in the daily press. We feel obliged to inform you, however, that we do not find the legal reasons invoked against our application to be convincing or consistent with our interpretation of the relevant Albanian legislation.
According to the Albanian Law on the Right to [Receive] Information on Official Documents, all agencies of the state administration and public entities "are obliged to release all information related to an official document, unless otherwise provided by law."204 Hence, as a general rule, the public is entitled to receive information on all official documents access to which has not been limited or prohibited by special legislation. 205
According to your reply, section 14 of the [executive] Regulation on Public Procurement (no. 335 of June 23, 2000) bars the release of the documentation we have requested.206 We believe, however, that the latter provision is not of a prohibiting character; its goal is to regulate record-keeping and enable internal financial control by the competent authorities.
This argument is also consistent with the Public Procurement Law, which includes a provision almost identical to section 14 of Regulation 335.207 Section 10 of the Public Procurement Law makes it clear that procurement records must "be made available, upon request, to any interested person, once the winning bid has been made public." Given that the winners of the relevant tender have been determined, we see no reasons for denying Human Rights Watch access to the requested procurement records. This interpretation is in harmony with the letter and spirit of the Albanian public procurement law,208 the freedom of information law as well as the general principles of transparency, accountability, and legality that are binding upon the public administration of a democratic country.
For these reasons we request, pursuant to section 15 of the freedom of information law, that you reconsider your initial decision and provide us with copies of the requested documentation. We remain willing to cover the costs associated with this request.
We can be reached by fax at +22.214.171.1240 or by mail at the following address:
Human Rights Watch
I can also be reached at the telephone number +126.96.36.1998 or e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
cc: Mr. Ermir Dobjani, People's Advocate
205 Articles 2(c) and 2(ç) of Law 8503 define "public" as "any individual or legal entity, domestic or foreign." This provision grants both Human Rights Watch, as a foreign legal entity, and myself personally, as an Albanian citizen, the right to apply for access to the documents referred to above.
206 Article 14 provides: "The procuring agency shall maintain, and make available to [financial] control authorities, the procurement registry, records [procesverbal] and complete documentation for all public procurement deals it concludes."