YPC Weekly Newsletter

2004


CIVIC INITIATIVE AGAINST THE AMENDMENTS TO THE LAW “ON FREEDOM OF INFORMATION”

On February 19 the Freedom of Information Civic Initiative, uniting three NGOs (Freedom of Information Center, Media Law Institute and Civil Society Institute), demanded to withdraw from circulation the draft on introducing amendments and additions into the RA Law “On Freedom of Information”, approved at the session of Armenian Government on February 12. The Law itself was developed on the initiate and with the participation of Yerevan Press Club and a number of other NGOs and was passed on September 23, 2003. In the opinion of experts, it is generally rather progressive and ensures the right to access and receipt of information (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 19-25, 2003).

The statement, issued by the Civic Initiative, says that the amendments presented greatly alter the essence of the Law in force. “The Draft Law deprives people of real opportunity to receive information. It endangers all present anti-corruption initiatives and does not give opportunity to the state bodies to operate transparently and to be open and accessible for the general public”, the signatories claim.

From the analysis of the draft made by the Civic Initiative and enclosed to the statement, it follows that the subject of greatest criticism was, in particular, the reduction of the list of information types to be mandatory published, the abolition of the provision, prohibiting the refusal to provide information on the danger to security or health of citizens or presenting the real state of affairs in environment, health and other vitally important spheres. The amendments also stipulate responsibility only for non-provision of information, while initially the Law called for responsibility for provision of false information, too.