GONG has written several complaints to the Government warning against the bad practice of publishing only the session agenda on their web site without publishing the actual materials which are to be decided upon during the session.
GONG has written several complaints to the Government warning against the bad practice of publishing only the session agenda on their web site without publishing the actual materials which are to be decided upon during the session. Furthermore, citizens have no right to attend Government’s sessions, which makes this practice even more unsatisfactory.
GONG will continue to pursue this issue until the Government starts publishing the materials regularly.
In February 2008. GONG and several NGOs (B.a.B.e., Centre for Peace Studies, GONG, Transparency International Croatia, Green Action, Green Forum, ZaMirNET) sent a joint request to the Government and Parliament regarding transparent work of the Government and urgent procedure.
GONG has continued to monitor the transparency of the work of the Croatian Government and issue annual reports about the level of the Government transparency in the decision-making process.
In March 2009, GONG held the press conference in order to present its report on the transparency of the Government’s work in 2008.
In 2008 the Government held 62 sessions, of which 34 were partly held behind closed doors. In addition to that, the government failed to publish the agendas and materials of 14 sessions, of which ten are believed to have been held as phone conferences.
The Government had allocated HRK 50.9 million (7 million Euro) from budgetary reserves in the first half of last year to different beneficiaries, with the Finance Minister approving the allocation of HRK 40,000 (5.500 Euro).
The amount was allocated in a non-transparent manner, contrary to democratic practice and the Government’s proclaimed efforts of cost-cutting.
The report demonstrated that the Croatian Government has continued to violate the principles of good conduct, transparency and responsibility towards citizens by holding increasingly frequent closed-door sessions, by failing to make public decisions on the allocation of funds from budgetary reserves, and by issuing incomplete statements and failing to make them public, at least two days in advance.
Government sessions continued to be frequently held behind closed doors, and without any information on what issues the Government has decided.
GONG stated there had been no changes for the better, comparing the semiannual report.
The last September the Government started issuing detailed statements on its closed-door sessions, but that GONG had nothing to compare those statements against. Inquiries about the topics (agendas) of those sessions have remained unanswered.
In addition, GONG had requested from the Government copies of all items discussed at closed-door sessions, but that it had not received any answers, which prompted it to sue the Government with the Administrative Court. The Administrative Court ruled the procedure was not respected. However the Court has not decided regarding the transparency of the closed-door sessions.
GONG decided to request once again the copies of all items on the agendas of government sessions held behind closed doors.
Croatian government adopted a proposed decision to reject GONG request.
The government said in a statement that it had asked GONG to specify which items it was interested in, but that the NGO responded by requesting copies of “absolutely all items on absolutely all agendas of absolutely all closed-door government sessions.” The government said that its decision was in accordance with the Right of Access to Information Act.
GONG concluded the current legislation does not guarantee the transparency of the government’s work and calls for changing the Law on the Government and its Rules of Procedure.
Closed-door sessions should be an exception, rather than the rule. Reports on the allocation of funds from budgetary reserves, information and statements on open and closed-door government sessions and those held as phone conferences should be made available on the Government’s website.