We are defending the key instrument of civil control – the right to ask the state for information. We use it to uncover corruption and cronyism in the state or municipality expenditures. We also focus on journalists in order to ensure a factual journalism in Slovakia, instead of the superficial and conspiratorial kind.
Slovakia has got one of the best Acts/Laws to guarantee the rights of its citizens for information about the affairs of the state, but unfortunately, this is often violated in practice. According to our analysis, a regular citizen is twice less likely to get the key information they are asking for, from a municipality office or a public company, than a powerful NGO such as Transparency International. And even if the information is available, it is impossible to connect or analyse it. Often times it is hidden in strange formats or divided between various different offices. Last but not least, in order to preserve the state of democracy, we need to supervise the media as well. They have significant influence on the public opinion and they can control the politicians themselves. However, the loudest critical voices of the media are coming from politicians or conspirators, which is not trustworthy.
In Transparency, we believe that public pressure and pointing out the malpractices are the most effective ways to fight for the access to information and control of the state’s expenses. What is more, the citizens should also join in and not leave the NGO’s fight alone, because it is precisely their money that is at stake. When it comes to media, what really matters is a constructive and regular criticism based on facts, not impressions, hate or made up stories.
We fight for the right to access the information on several fronts. Our experts, Pavel Nechala and Vladimír Pirošík are often quoted by the media when it comes to defending the citizens’ right for information and are also invited by the ministries to help fix problems with the Information Act. Every year, we keep testing the compliance with the Act in practice. Every year, we educate dozens of activist to be able to defend their rights effectively. We are not afraid to take institutions which deny the citizens their rights to the court. We help to change the formats of the state’s data and information to more accessible and clear ones. (Be it the state’s contracts (Open Contracts), tendering processes (Open State’s Orders), grants of the Prime Minister and the activities of public companies.)
Our articles on supervising the ethics and level of professionalism of media get dozens of thousands of readers every year and are widely discussed by politicians and experts.