Principles and Implementation
- The basic principle of the Act is set out in Article 3: ‘Any eligible person has a right of access to documents held by public authorities…’
- An eligible person is defined as one legally residing in Malta for at least five years, and who is either a citizen of Malta or any other EU Member State or of another State citizens of which are to be treated in the same manner as citizens of EU Member States.
- The Act applies to all Public Authorities, with the exception of those listed in Article 5(4), namely: the Electoral Commission, the Employment Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Office of the Attorney General, the National Audit Office, the Security Service, the Broadcasting Authority (in relation to Article 119(1) of the Constitution) and the Ombudsman.
- Article 19 specifies that eligible persons are entitled to be given access to any document containing policies, principles, rules or guidelines affecting decisions made in respect of the public.
- Article 20 sets out that an eligible person is entitled to information relating to decisions or recommendations affecting him.
- Information relating to these articles may however be withheld in accordance with the exemptions set out in the Act.
- The provisions of the Act do not apply to documents in Art. 5 (3) insofar as these contain personal data subject to Data Protection Act or information the disclosure of which is prohibited by any other law.
- Whereas requests for review are essentially linked to refusal to release the requested information, complaints may be filed even where, for instance, the 20-day deadline is extended by the Public Authority.
- Moreover, Article 41 also provides for a Code of Practice specifying the establishment of internal complaints procedures on the part of Public Authorities.
Refusals to provide information would have to be in accordance with:
- Part V (documents affecting national security or international relations, Cabinet documents, documents affecting law enforcement/protection of public safety, documents subject to legal privilege, documents relating to business affairs and documents the disclosure of which would be in contempt of Court);
- Part VI (internal working documents, documents affecting financial or property interests of public authorities; documents concerning certain operations);
- Other criteria for refusal are set out in Article 14 (information requested is available to the public, vexatious requests) and Article 20 (e.g. information may prejudice safe custody or rehabilitation of the person).
FOIA Website; applications can be downloaded from the following link: https://secure2.gov.mt/FOI/downloads?l=43B1FE761FE51D49B79B53A17BBED958E92687B53C6D6161
For further information please refer to FOIA Cap 496
MATS FOIA Officers: Mr. Francis Bezzina – 23695429
Alternate: Ms. Stephanie Bonnici – 23695440
The generic email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Category of Documents and Manuals held by MATS