On the 22nd of December 2020, the Right of Access to Public Sector Information Law of 2017 (184 (I) / 2017) entered into force.
This legislation establishes and regulates the right of natural and legal persons to request and have access to information held by the Public Authorities, with the aim of enhancing the accountability and transparency of the public authorities. In addition to information published by the public authorities in accordance with their publication schemes, natural and legal persons also have the right to access to unpublished information.
The said establishes a new Commissioner, who will be the respective Cyprus Commissioner for Personal Data Protection and who is in charge of supervising the implementation of the Law.
The provisions of the Law
The law provides that any natural or legal person has the right to request access to information held by a public authority and specifically to be informed in writing whether the authority possesses or not the information requested and in case the information is possessed and is accessible, to obtain this information.
The said right does not exist in the following cases:
a) the application concerns any personal data of the applicant or any third person in which case the Cyprus Law for Processing of Personal data applies;
b) It is regulated under any other specific legislation;
c) It is incompatible with obligations imposed by the European Union; or
d) it would constitute or would be punishable as a contempt of Court.
The applications shall be submitted in writing and shall include the following information:
- the name of the applicant,
- the address of the applicant, and
- a description of the information requested
The applicant may include in his application his preference for one or more of the following ways of receiving the requested information:
- a copy of the information in paper form or in any other form acceptable to the applicant;
- to be provided with reasonable opportunity to access the record containing the requested information
- a summary of the information in paper form or in any other form acceptable to the applicant.
The Law provides that the public authorities may request clarification or additional information to those contained in the application in order to identify and trace the information requested, in which case the authorities are exempted from their obligations until they receive clarification or information needed. The authorities must inform in writing the applicant on any fees payable in order for the request to be processed. The public authorities shall process the request within thirty (30) days from the day of the receipt of the request, unless a longer period is provided by Regulations.
Public authorities may reject any application for the provision of information, if any of the exceptions provided by the law apply. Α few examples by which a Public authority may deny an access to information are national security reasons or financial interests or if the requested information is accessible to the applicant by any other means etc.
Furthermore, the Law lists the Commissioner of Information’s duties while enabling the applicant to submit a complaint before the Commissioner, in case she/he considers that, in relation to her/his request, specific provisions of the Law have been violated by the Public authority.
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