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Access to public information in Poland

Access to public information in Poland
Tomaszowski Informator Tygodniowy, 8/2020, 21/02/2020

Recently, I had enormous pleasure to represent weekly “Tomaszowski Informator Tygodniowy” in case against the President of Tomaszów Mazowiecki. President refused to provide reporter with public information about termination of agreement between magistrate and one of the employees. As a result of my appeal, refusal decision of the President was entirely repealed by the Appeals Authority.

What is public information in Poland?

Article 61 of the Polish Constitution, which states that:

The citizen has the right to obtain information on the activities of public authorities and persons performing public functions. This right also includes obtaining information on the activities of economic and professional self-government bodies as well as other persons and organizational units to the extent that they perform public authority tasks and manage municipal property or State Treasury property.

Therefore, public information in Poland has to be defined as everything that concerns public authority and information related to managing public funds and  performing of public tasks.

Moreover, public information is not limited only to information generated by public authorities, but also information in their possession generated in connection with the performance of public tasks or the management of public property by other persons and organizational units.

How to obtain public information in Poland?

The rules of access to public information are regulated by the Polish act of 6 September 2001 (Journal of Laws of 2015, item 2058). The act specifies the constitutional provision of art. 61 on the right of citizens to information on the activities of public authorities.

The right to public information consists of the rights to:

  1. obtaining public information, including obtaining processed information to the extent that it is particularly important for the public interest (Article 3, paragraph 1),
  2. inspect official documents,
  3. access to meetings of collegiate public authorities

Everyone has entitlement to use above mentioned rights. Moreover, there is not any obligation to justify using these entitlements. Public information are made available on request. 

Access to public information on request should be carried out without undue delay, but no later than within 14 days from the date of submission of the request. Public authority may extend this period to 2 months. 

The application to obtain public information may be submitted in any form, including electronic (by e-mail).

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