CIN Wins the Eight Case to Access Public Information
CIN has won an administrative review case against the University Hospital in Foča after it had been denied access to public information.
The court ruled that according to the Republika Srpska Law on Freedom of Access to Information, every natural and legal person has a right of access to public information under the purview of a public institution.
By The Center for Investigative Reporting
The District Court in Trebinje has ruled in favor of the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN) in an administrative review case against University Hospital in Foča.
In March 2017, CIN requested records about donations the hospital received between 2010 and March 2017. University Hospital ignored the request which prompted CIN to file a case with the District Court.
In its response to the court, the hospital management stated that it was impossible to answer the request because the law stipulated that it should keep the records for five years and that “there were various types of medical equipment and it was difficult to decide on the activities necessary to find the requested information.”
However, the court ruled that according to the Republika Srpska Law on Freedom of Access to Information, every natural and legal person has a right of access information under the purview of the public institution and every public institution has an obligation to make those records available.
After the January 2018 ruling, the hospital responded and sent the requested records. CIN learned that 14 donors gave medical equipment worth 818,610 KM to the hospital. You may find the detailed information about these donations on our online database that CIN published last week.
CIN requested records from 34 hospitals in BiH and found out that some companies became exclusive suppliers to hospitals after donating sophisticated machinery. Nevesinje Hospital and Special Hospital for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation “Mlječanica“ from Kozarska Dubica answered that they received no donations. Other hospital received 176 million worth of donations.
CIN revealed that among the donors were wholesale medical supply traders which donated 2.2 million KM worth of medical equipment to seven hospitals and then snagged contracts for chemicals and other supplies worth nearly 14.7 million KM.
Sometimes the contracts were publicly advertised with donors being the only bidders and other times they were negotiated through several closed bids due to “exclusive rights”. A CIN investigation found that donors are seldom the only suppliers of chemicals around, but they have carved out the market in order not to compete with other suppliers.
Officials from the Bosnia and Herzegovina Public Procurement Agency say that bidding procedures based on presents are not in line with the law. Medical organizations, they say, should be searching for the best possible equipment needed. However, the law is vague, and mostly never enforced.