Official documents and disclosure

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What is an offical document and what principles are there when disclosing offical documents?

Below are FAQ:s about official documents, public access and secrecy and disclosure. 

  • What is the openness principle (offentlighetsprincipen) and what does it entail?
  • What is an official document?
  • How do i disclose an official document?
  • What can/must be made secret/confidential?

What is the openness principle (offentlighetsprincipen) and what does it entail?

At Swedish public authorities the principle of openness of official documents is applied to guarantee transparency and accountability for citizens.  The public, i.e. a private individual or a journalist for example, have the right to take part of the public authority’s official documents. What is an official document?It is the Freedom of Press Act (Tryckfrihetsförordningen) that regulates the openness principle and define what a official document is. For a document to be considered official it has to be kept, been received or drawn up at the public authority (i.e. Karolinska Institutet). Received documents are any documents that have been sent to KI and concern a specific case or the public authority in general.  A document is considered drawn up when it is expedited by mail or email from the public authority, alternatively if it isn’t expedited when it is closed/finished/signed. 
Memos and drafts and other temporary work material are not considered official documents and do therefore not need to be disclosed. An official document also has to concern public authority matters. Private emails for example are not regarded as official documents even if the email has been sent to the KI-employees work email account.

How do I disclose an official document?

The right to take part of official documents pertains to both Swedish and foreign citizens. The individual has the right to be anonymous and KI can’t demand either name or purpose of enquiry. The only instance when the public authority has the right to ask for name or purpose is if the documents may contain secret/confident information. A request for disclosure of an official document should be registered and handled promptly. Provided there isn’t any secrecy in the document it has to be given out straight away or as soon as possible. Karolinska Institutet generally hands out official documents electronically and without charge. The enquirer can also take part of the documents in paper form for a fee that is regulated in the Fees and charges regulation (Avgiftsförordningen). The first 9 copies are free, copy number 10 is 50 SEK and every page beyond that is 2 SEK. In instances when secrecy is applied and the document or parts of it can’t be disclosed the enquirer should be informed that they have the right to appeal the refusal from the public authority. The enquirer should also be informed that it is only if they ask for an official decision (myndighetsbeslut) they have the right to appeal the refusal.  According to KI’s delegation of authority (delegationsordning) the refusal is to be made by the University Director. What can/must be made secret/confidential? To apply secrecy to a document, part of a document or a whole case it has to be supported by law. (The public access to information and secrecy act – Offentlighets- och Sekretesslagen) It is not possible to make a document confidential based on the notion that ”the information is pretty sensitive so let’s make it confidential”.Every time someone makes a request to take part of an official document an assessment of secrecy has be made. If you’re unsure please contact the lawyers at the university administration. To help you with the disclosal of offical documents please see our local routine document Rutin för begäran om utlämnande av allmän handling. The document mainly turns to administrators at the university administration.