Law on Freedom of Information (1998)

Translated by NDI

Law of Georgia

"On Freedom of Information"

24 February, 1998

Article 1. Goal of the Law

This law regulates the relations, emerging from the implementation of the constitutional rights to freely produce, obtain, receive, posses, transmit or disseminate information and to have access to any public information at state agencies. The law also establishes the guarantees for implementing these rights.

Article 2. Definitions

The concepts used in this law have the following meaning:

    1. Public Information means any type of written, printed, video, electronic records or other documents, regardless of their physical form, as well as other kind of information, designated for dissemination among certain circles, except state, professional, commercial and private secrets.

    2. State Secret means the information classified under the provisions of the “Law on State Secret”.

    3. Professional Secret means the secrets of confession, information possessed by doctors, defenders (lawyers) and any other information defined by law as a professional secret.

    4. Commercial Secret means information concerning current and potential commercial costs, other commercial information, declared and kept as secret by its owners, except information which can not be secret according to law.

    5. Private Secret means information concerning the private life of an individual, information concerning the health, financial status, property; As well as, personal writings, correspondence and phone talks.

    6. Official Document means any written, printed, video, electronic or other records, which are received, produced, created or transmitted by local governmental bodies or national agencies in compliance with legislation.

    7. Producer of Public Information means a legal and real entity, who obtains, processes and disseminates directly or indirectly public information.

Article 3. Right to Obtain and Disseminate Information

1. Every individual has the right to obtain, receive, purchase, transmit, keep and disseminate information.

2. These rights may be restricted, provided there exists the legislative and statutory basis for it.

3. Pursing the producer of information for the published information, as well as forcing him to publish or not to publish, disseminate or not to disseminate any information is prohibited.

Article 4. Right to freely disseminate information

1. Establishing demands for licensing, registration or other preliminary permissions or setting impediments for implementation of the constitutional right to obtain and disseminate information is inadmissible, except when it regards to broadcasting (exploitation of frequencies), for which the broadcasting license, issued in accordance with the law, is required.

2. Profitable, frequently exercised activity, which aims to obtain and disseminate information, needs to be registered in accordance with the law on Entrepreneurs.

3. Forbiddance of dissemination of any information, or depriving the right to obtain and disseminate information, as well as, abolishing a legal entity or activity, for disseminated information, is inadmissible.

Article 5. Right to Obtain Information from the State and Bodies of Local Self-governance

1. Every citizen of Georgia has the right to have access to the information on him (her) existing in local governmental offices, national agencies and state (treasury) enterprises.

2. Every individual has the right to have access to any official document of local governmental offices, national agencies and state enterprises, if they do not contain state, professional or commercial secrets.

3. Information connected with health, finances or other private issues of an individual, existing in official records, may not be accessible to other individuals without his/her prior consent, except the cases provided by law, when the access is necessary in order to protect state or public security, human rights or freedoms.

4. A citizen willing to have access to information on him (her) or official documents existing at a local governmental office or a national agency, requests for it in written form the senior executive of the corresponding office or agency. The written request indicates the name of the information or the official document needed. The absence of motivation for access to the information should not cause the refusal to access.

5. Every individual has the right to disseminate orally, in written or other forms a document of the local governmental offices or national agencies.

6. The information demanded according to this law from a senior executive or a state agency must be provided within 14 days after the demand. The copies of legal acts and documents included in the register must be provided within 2 days after the demand. These terms do not include holidays provided by the Labor Code of Georgia.

7. An individual has the right to demand the information despite form and state of its storage; he has the right of access to the original official document, unless this exposes the document to danger of being destroyed.

8. The applicant has the right to choose the form in which to obtain the document, if the document exists in various technical forms.

9. In case of refusal of access to information, the requester must be informed in writing within 2 days after the request has been submitted. The letter must indicate, which normative acts prohibit access to the requested information.

10. It is inadmissible to impose any fees for providing official documents, except the necessary costs of copying. The requester must be informed beforehand on the costs of copying.

11. It’s inadmissible to set priorities by state and local governmental bodies between any person or group of persons requesting for information.

12. In case of refusal of access to information, or receiving incorrect or incomplete information, within 30 days the requester has the right to appeal to the court. The court must consider the action within 15 days. The burden of proof falls on the state agency or local governmental office, institution or state (treasury) enterprises.

Article 6. Register of Official Documents

1. Every local governmental office and national agency has the obligation to establish a register of official documents. The register must contain the following data concerning the documents: the name of the document, the date of its receive, the name of the receiving body or the person. The documents classified under the provisions of the “Law on State Secret”, are not included in the register.

2. An official document included into the register within 2 days after it is adopted, processed, or published by the local governmental office or the national agency.

3. The register is public and every individual has the right to have freely access to it.

Article 7. Confidentiality of Source of Information

1. The producer of public information has the right not to reveal the source of information.

2. The producer of public information does not have right to reveal the name, surname or other data of the individual, who provided him information, if the provider is against this. In this case the provider may demand a written promise from the producer of public information.

3. The source of information can be revealed, provided the information is not correct.

The court decision can be appealed to the superior court agency in accordance with the procedure code.

Article 8. Dissemination of the information considered as a private secret information

1. Information, which is considered as a secret information of the individual, can be published only after this person gives permission of publishing.

2. There is no need of having permission for publishing of materials belonging the individuals who represent the objects of the mass interest.

3. The objects of the mass interest are considered political clerks, government officials, who are filling out financial declaration forms according to the State Law of Georgia on anti-corruption. Also, as the object of the mass interest can be considered any other individual with significant impact on the State and civil life of the country.

Article 9. Responsibility for dissemination of the information

1. Individual is responsible for publishing information containing slander or humiliating an individual’s honor of the person or publishing information containing another person's private secrets.

2. Individual is responsible for dissemination of the wrong information about object of public interest knowing beforehand that information was not correct.

3. Individual will be held accountable for dissemination of such wrong information only in case if he / she has not used possibility of checking such information.

4. Individual will not be accountable for dissemination of such information if the object of public interest is not denying the information published.

5. Individual is not accountable for dissemination of the information containing other individuals' or commercial secrets in case if the fact of not publishing of such information can be the reason of loses for national security, populations' health and or can be a reason of violation of the laws.

6. Individual is not accountable for dissemination of such wrong information which represent public ideas.

7. Individual will be accountable for dissemination of the information only in case if the person whose information was published had loses due to such activity.

Article 10. Evaluation Speech

1. Individual can not be blamed in dissemination of the wrong information if such is connected with Evaluation Speech.

2. The information will be viewed as evaluation speach, if such can not be checked proved or denied by facts. (version. “and which represents personal attitude towards fact, object or individual")

Article 11. Citation of the information

1. Individual can not be responsible for dissemination of the cited information if the author of the citation is mentioned.

2. Individual can be held accountable for dissemination of above mentioned information in case if he knew that the author disclaimed his words or there was special judicial denying of such information.

Article 12. Dissemination of the secret information from the state and governmental bodies

1. Dissemination of the secret information from the state and governmental bodies, state, commercial and professional secrets can not suggested as outlaw for the person, who is not responsible for hiding and taking care to hide such information.

2. An authority will not be responsible for providing the respective state agency by certain secret information revealing violation of the law that essentially damages state security or public health.

Article 13. Accountability for impeding the court form discharging its duties independently and unbiased

A person will be held accountable for creating obstacles in the court system and trying to prevent implementation of the independence and unbiased approach, provided the information disseminated by him/her impedes court from making complete and fair decision.

Article 14. Provision or Dissemination of Information by violation of constitutional structure of Georgia, for the purpose of engendering war, national, racial or religious hostility

A person will be held accountable for provision and dissemination of information by violation of the constitutional structure of Georgia, for the purpose of engendering war, national, racial and religious hostility provided it endangers the violation of the law or directed to create such dangers.

Article 15. Claim for Moral (non-property) Damages

A person is accountable to compensate moral damages caused by dissemination of incorrect information through violation of law, abusing one’s honor and merit.

Article 16. Accountability for the Violation of this Law

1. Authority, who illegally restricts the right to obtain and disseminate information, will be held accountable according to legislation.

2. Censorship, preliminary control or intrusion of local offices or national agencies in the procession and dissemination of information is prohibited and causes responsibility determined by law.

3. A senior state or local self-government executive, who without any legal motivation refuses to provide information or provides incorrect or incomplete information, bears responsibility determined by law.

Article 17. The Enforcement of the Law

The law will be enforced upon its promulgation.