Circular on the Use of the Right to Obtain Information

Prime Ministry Circular on the Use of the Right to Information, published in the Official Gazette dated 4 January 2004 and numbered 25356

Directorate General of Personnel and Principles

Issue:  B.02.0.PPG.0.12-320-1327 23 JANUARY 2004
Subject: Petition and the Use of the Right to Obtain Information


It is a requirement of a democratic and transparent administration on the basis of equality, impartiality and openness that individuals apply to administrative authorities for their wishes and complaints and use their right to obtain information about themselves or their fields of activity. In order to ensure the rule of law, democratisation and transparency in the administration-individual relationship, being sensitive to individual rights and freedoms during the execution of administrative activities is the most fundamental characteristic of the state of law.

Our government has adopted a policy based on strengthening the ties between the state and society and responding to the demands and expectations of the people at the highest level. The principle of "The adoption of citizen-oriented approaches in public services", which is also included in the Emergency Action Plan, forms the basis of this policy.

In this context, with the second paragraph added to Article 40 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, titled "Protection of fundamental rights and freedoms", with the Law No. 4709 dated 3.10.2001, the State is obliged to indicate which legal remedies and authorities the relevant persons will apply to and their durations. With the amendment made in Article 74 titled "Right to petition", it is stipulated that the petitioners are notified in writing of the results of their applications.

In order to provide the application of these amendments in our Constitution, in Article 7 of the Law on the Use of the Right to Petition dated 01.11.1984 and numbered 3071, amended by the Law No. 4778 of 02.01.2003, it has been stated that the competent authorities will inform petitioners about the stage or result of the process being carried out, within thirty days at the latest. In addition, with the Law No. 4982 on the Right to Obtain Information, dated 9.10.2003, which will enter into force on 24.4.2004, the principles and procedures regarding the exercise of the right to obtain information by individuals have been regulated. Both arrangements are of capital importance and have priority in terms the legal and administrative regulations and commitments for improving the applications for human rights stated in the National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis.

However, there are complaints indicating that the necessary sensitivity is not shown in the implementation of the provisions of the Constitution and the Law in question, that the applications made with petitions are sometimes not answered by the administrative authorities or that they are answered after the legal deadline, and thus the effective use of the right to petition is not realised.

In this regard, in order to ensure that the right to obtain information and the right to petition are used effectively in accordance with the principles and procedures in our legislation, the central and provincial organisations of the ministries, the governorship, district governorship and local administrations and other public institutions and organisations are obliged to comply with the rules stated below in their service areas.

  1. The right to petition is one of the political rights that provides information by receiving answers to questions; supervision by making complaints; and democratic participation by making wishes and suggestions. In this regard,
    1. Turkish citizens and foreigners residing in Turkey (on the condition that reciprocity is observed and their petitions are written in Turkish) have the right to apply in writing to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and the authorised administrative authorities for their wishes and complaints about themselves or the public. Any application made to the administration within the framework of the use of the right to petition will be answered in accordance with the following procedure:
      • Administrative authorities receiving the application petitions of individuals and legal entities will issue a receipt showing the date, registration number and subject of the petition, and give these receipts to the applicants without any charge.
      • Petitions that do not have a name, surname or address, do not include a signature, do not contain a specific subject, or are subject to the jurisdiction of the judicial authorities, will not be answered. However, although they do not contain these elements, if convincing information and documents related to the event are attached to the applications, or if they are based on factual information, findings or events, these issues can be considered as a notice and action can be taken by the administration.
      • Applications that fall within the jurisdiction of another administrative authority will be forwarded to the relevant administrative authority and the applicant will be informed.
      • It is a legal obligation for individuals and legal entities to respond to duly made applications with petitions regarding themselves or the public as soon as possible. Regarding the applications made in this way, petitioners will be given a reasoned reply within thirty days at the latest, regarding the stage or result of the process being carried out by the competent administrative authority. If the process continues, they will be informed about the result separately.
      • Considering that the petitions sent to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey will be examined by the petitions committee and the Committee on Human Rights Inquiry, it will be taken into consideration that the petitions sent by the Parliamentary Petition Committee will be answered by the relevant public institutions and organisations within thirty days at the latest.
    2. Upon the applications regarding the amendment, removal or withdrawal of the existing administrative proceedings, which are open for administrative application, the following actions will be taken, by taking into account of the provision of Article 11 of the Administrative Procedure Law (IYUK), which regulates the application and response time to the relevant administrative authority.
    3. The application petition will be delivered as soon as possible to the administrative authority that is authorised to change, abolish or withdraw administrative actions.
    4. The competent administrative authority will provide a response following the submission of the application petition to the administration, by evaluating the legality of the procedure in terms of all its elements, as well as the appropriateness of the procedure, by conducting the necessary examination and research as soon as possible.
    5. In the event that it is not possible to change, abolish or withdraw the administrative act, the legal remedies that can be applied against this administrative act and the application deadlines will be indicated in the reply to the applicant.
  2. The principles and procedures regarding the exercise of the right to obtain information were regulated in the "Law on the Right to Obtain Information" numbered 4982, which will come into force on 24.4.2004. In this regard,
    1. Public institutions and organisations and professional organisations in the nature of public institutions will quickly conclude applications related to obtaining information within the scope of the aforementioned Law regarding their activities and provide all kinds of information and documents to the applicants, except for the ones specified in the Law.
    2. Institutions and organisations will provide access to the requested information and document within fifteen working days of application. Access to the requested information and documents is provided within thirty working days if the requested information and document is provided from another unit within the institution or organisation applied for, the opinion of another institution or organisation is required, or the content of the application concerns more than one institution and organisation. However, if this period is extended, the applicant will be notified of the reason therefor in writing before the end of the fifteen working day period.
    3. Except for those that will affect the working life and professional dignity of a person, administrative transactions outside the judicial review, state secrets, information about the economic interests of the country, intelligence, administrative or judicial investigation, private life, information and documents that violate the confidentiality of communication, trade secrets and issues within the scope of the Law on Intellectual and Artistic Works constitute an exception to the right to obtain information. Likewise, information or documents published or made public with requests for advice and opinion will not be the subject of applications for obtaining information.
    4. Without prejudice to the cases requiring criminal prosecution within the framework of the general provisions, disciplinary penalties in the legislation to which civil servants and other public officials are subject will be applied, regarding their negligence, fault or intent in the implementation of the Law on the Right to Obtain Information.

Moreover; applicants who convey their wishes and complaints to public institutions and organisations verbally will be greeted with tolerance and smiling faces and will be assisted. The requests of the applicants will be examined immediately and care will be taken to resolve their problems on site as much as possible.

In this framework, all personnel will be informed about the constitutional and legal rules regarding the subject, as well as the procedures and principles stated above, the subject will be included in the training programs organised for the personnel in detail, the practices regarding the applications for the use of rights to information and petition will be examined according to the legislation, and as a result of the examinations, disciplinary and criminal procedures will be applied in accordance with the general provisions to the public officials that do not comply with the rules.

3071 sayılı "Dilekçe Hakkının Kullanılmasına Dair Kanun"un uygulanması çerçevesinde yayınlanmış bulunan halkla ilişkiler konulu 22.1.1993 tarihli ve (1993/2) sayılı Genelgenin 2'nci maddesinde "iki ay" olarak belirtilen dilekçenin cevaplandırılmasına ilişkin süre, mevzuatta yapılan değişikliğe istinaden "30 gün" şeklinde değiştirilmiş, vatandaş başvuruları konulu 29.12.1994 tarihli ve 20369 sayılı yazı yürürlükten kaldırılmıştır.

With reference to the amendment made in the legislation, the period for responding to the petition was changed to "30 days" from "two months" as specified in the 2nd article of the Circular on public relations dated 22.1.1993 and numbered (1993/2) and which was published within the frame of the "Law on the Use of the Right to Petition" numbered 3071; and the document dated 29.12.1994 and numbered 20369 on citizen applications was repealed.

In this respect; the requirements of the provisions of the "Law on the Exercise of the Right to Petition" and the "Law on the Right to Obtain Information" will be fulfilled by all public institutions and organisations in accordance with the procedures and principles stated above.

This circular enters into force on the date of its publication.
Recep Tayyip ERDOĞAN 
Prime Minister