Judge ruled in favor of CIN
First Instance Verdict in CIN”s Favor
By the Center for Investigative Reporting
The Bosnia-Herzegovina Agency for Civil Service (ADS) initially refused to answer questions from the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN) which filed a request under the freedom of information law for information on civil service hiring.
CIN reporters asked for a list of the agency”s employees between 2006 and 2011 and for the type contract they held. They wanted to find out how many people had been working at the agency already before any official vacancy for their positions had been put out.
CIN eventually discovered that at least 260 persons in 33 state-level agencies were hired while already freelance or short-term contract workers in the same place. Those kinds of contracts do not require a public job ad.
In its initial response ADS refused to supply any names and said that identifying employees would be an invasion of their right to privacy not justified by public interest.
Earlier, the Personal Data Protection Agency had approved disclosure of civil servants’ identity, as well as the type and duration of their contract.
CIN, which has a tradition of advocating and fighting for transparency and accountability in government, filed a complaint with the Court of BiH. A first instance verdict handed down in February ordered Ads to furnish CIN with the records within 30 days and to shoulder the court expenses of 700 KM.
“The hiring process in civil service should be transparent and has to be based on the obligation of publishing a vacancy, i.e. a job ad.
Information about the candidates for civil service work—based on all grounds that the law has accounted for —must contain the information about the first and last name as well as other personal data of the participants which are necessary for the carrying out of such hiring procedure,” the ruling said.
However, ADS complained to the Court of BiH asking for reconsideration of the ruling.
In its grievance, ADS said that “The intention of the plaintiff was not to praise but bad-mouth the state agencies” and it speculated that CIN would publish the names of civil servants in a negative context because it would write about persons who first had a short-term contract before being hired full-time.
ADS said the court erred in its ruling and repeated a claim that the revealing of identity in the media in a negative context would affect the privacy of state workers. ADS also complained about the high court expenses.
The court ruled that this request for reconsideration was inadmissible.
ADS finally shared the requested records with CIN in March, seven months after the original request. The records reveal that four out of every 18 civil servants in ADS had already there before the vacancy was put out.
The full ruling can be seen below (Bosnian language):
First published on Aug. 31, 2012