“On behalf of the Lithuanian journalist community, we ask you to immediately adopt decisions to open access to data from the Center of Registers for the media,” they said in an open letter to the prime minister, the ministers for communications, justice and culture, and the center’s director.
Without prior notice and without consulting the journalist community, the Center of Registers on September 14 ended its long-time practice of providing the media with registry data free of charge, they said.
The Cabinet on October 3 postponed decisions that the government said were aimed at giving journalists free access to registry data.
Registry data are now provided to the media for the same fees as those paid by other commercial users.
According to the letter, the current situation undermines the freedom, granted by the Constitution and other laws, to seek, receive and impart information.
“We do not object to the proposal to establish a new procedure in the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public, but we urge that decisions should to be made to reopen access for the media immediately, before the law enters into force,” the letter reads.
“We are open to dialogue and we ask that the journalist community be engaged in future discussions on issues relevant to the media.”
The open letter was signed by tens of editors and journalists, including the editors-in-chief of BNS Lithuania, Delfi.lt, 15min.lt, lrytas.lt, Verslo Žinios, LRT, the chairman of the Lithuanian Journalists Union, and the head of the Internet Media Association.
Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis told BNS on Thursday that the media would be given free access to registry data, with decisions on that expected to be made next week.
The Cabinet failed to adopt decisions on the issue on Wednesday because the respective government resolution drafted by the Transport and Communications Ministry needed to be improved, he said.