YPC Weekly Newsletter

2009


HEARINGS ON THE CASE OF VANADZOR OFFICE OF HELSINKI CITIZENS ASSEMBLY VERSUS RA MINISTRY OF DEFENSE STARTED

On June 26 RA Administrative court started the hearings on the case of Vanadzor
Office of Helsinki Citizens Assembly versus RA Ministry of Defense. The public
organization demands to oblige the Ministry to provide information on spring
conscription of 2008 in Tumanian, Stepanavan, Tashir, Spitak and Vanadzor districts
of Lori region. In particular, the plaintiff inquires about the following information:
1. how many people should have been called up for mandatory military service
in the aforesaid districts; 2. how many people received call-up papers; 3. how
many people were deferred and for what terms; 4. how many people received deferment
for health or family reasons, or to continue education; 5. how many people submitted
a petition for doing alternative military service; 6. how many cases on avoiding
military service by the draftees were submitted to court.

As it is mentioned in the claim of the plaintiff, on July 10, 2008 Vanadzor
Office of Helsinki Citizens Assembly addressed an inquiry to the RA Military
Commissioner to provide some of the abovementioned information. The request
was based on the relevant provisions of RA Constitution and the RA Law “On Freedom
of Information”, securing the right to freedom of expression and to receive
information. On July 18, 2008 the Military Commissioner informed that the required
information can be granted only upon the authorization of RA Minister of Defense.
On July 23, 2008 HCA Vanadzor Office turned to the Head of the Defense Ministry
with a request to give information on the aforesaid six points. In the letter
of August 19, 2008 the Ministry of Defense presented information only about
the number of applicants for alternative military service, noting that the information
on the first four questions cannot be granted so far as it is an official secret,
yet the facts on the last point are for internal official use only. On November
2, 2008 HCA Vanadzor Office in a letter to RA Minister of Defense inquired for
the list of documents dealing with conscription and not subject to publishing.
The response of the Defense Ministry on November 19, 2008 with relevant reference
to the RA Law “On Freedom of Information” emphasized that the statistic data
on conscription is a state secret and are not to be made public. Dissenting
with the arguments of the Ministry, on December 5, 2008 HCA Vanadzor Office
filed a suit to RA Administrative court.

On the court session of June 26 the defendant provided the plaintiff with information
on four of the six points. At the same time, the representative of RA Ministry
of Defense noted that the facts about the number of men liable to mandatory
military service, as well as the number of those who have received call-up papers
cannot be published, according to the RA Law “On State and Official Secret”.

The judgment on this suit will be released on July 10.