Why public access to official documents?
It is good for democracy to be scrutinised. Insight into authorities' activities provides guarantees against the abuse of power, and opportunities to exercise influence.
The activities of the authorities concern us all. The media and others who are interested must be able to access information on different matters, irrespective of what an authority chooses to spread information about.
All documents such as letters, decisions and reports received by or dispatched from authorities, are in principle public documents and must normally be made available for anyone to read. Documents received by and dispatched from an authority are registered. If you want to know which documents have been received by an authority or to study them, you contact the authority. The Government Offices' public documents are available through its Records Centre.
The principle of public access to official documents also means that government officials and other central or local government employees are free to divulge information, that is to say they are entitled to say what they know concerning a matter to the media and other outsiders.
The principle of public access to official documents
One of the cornerstones of a democratic society such as Sweden is the principle of public access to official documents. It means that the activities of the authorities are as far as possible open to insight. The records of, for example, court sessions and meetings of decision-making assemblies are therefore normally available for public scrutiny.
In order to guarantee an open society with access to information about the Riksdag, Government and government agencies, the principle of public access to official documents has been incorporated into one of the fundamental laws, the Freedom of the Press Act.
The principle of public access to official documents means each and everyone is entitled to make a request to study public documents and usually without needing to divulge why or who he or she is.
"To encourage the free exchange of opinion and availability of comprehensive information, every Swedish citizen shall be entitled to have free access to official documents."
(Chapter 2, Article 1, Freedom of the Press Act, which under Chapter 14, Article 5, as a rule also applies to aliens.)