YPC Weekly Newsletter

2002


FREEDOM OF INFORMATION FOR CITIZENS AND AUTHORITIES

On January 24-25, at the Yerevan "Hrazdan" Hotel a workshop on “Freedom of Information in Armenia” was held. The workshop was organized by the OSCE Office in Yerevan and Freedom of Information Center of the Association of Investigative Journalists with the support of the Armenian Mission of Central and Eastern European Law Initiative of the American Bar Association and the USAID. The urgency of the subject under consideration is explained by the fact that the access to information remains a serious issue not only for journalists, but also and primarily for ordinary citizens. It is often practically impossible to receive official information of interest, which is not a state secret, and so far there are no legal mechanisms to regulate this sphere.

The RA Draft Law "On Freedom of Information", presented to the workshop participants, was developed jointly by a number of NGOs: Yerevan Press Club, the Freedom of Information Center, Internews Armenia, the Civil Society Development Union. The Draft Law is included into the agenda of the spring session of the National Assembly. According to the Chairman of the RA NA Standing Committee on State and Legal Issues Viktor Dallakian and NA Deputy Vardan Bostanjian, who initiated the consideration of the Draft Law at the Parliament, the document is in need of further improvement, and, therefore, the discussion must be continued.

The Chairman of the RA Court of Cassation Henrik Danielian in his presentation admitted that the problem of access to information truly exists in Armenia and it must be solved by a joint effort, taking into account the interests of the state and the public. The representative of OSI COLPI Helen Darbishire shared this opinion, mentioning that the law on freedom of information is necessary not only for the citizens, but also for state bodies, as the officials also need to know their rights and responsibilities.

The discussion of the Draft resulted in the adoption of a final protocol by the workshop participants, the main provision of which will be taken into account during the further improvement of the Draft Law "On Freedom of Information".