On December 8, the Administrative Court of Armenia fully secured the lawsuit filed by “Investigative Journalists” NGO against the RA Ministry of Environmental Protection.
As we have reported, “Investigative Journalists” requested the Ministry of Environment to provide information for journalistic investigation conducted by the NGO on trafficking of the animals, listed in the International Red Book, in Armenia. Particularly, the request dealt with the copies of permits for import and export of animals, issued by the Ministry in 2010-2013, in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Ministry of Environment responded merely with the list of the animals, imported and exported from Armenia. At the same time, the agency refused to issue the copies of permits, referring to a commercial secret, as the documents contained the names of importers and exporters. In the following request “Investigative Journalists” suggested the agency to provide the demanded information while blurring the details containing commercial secret. The Ministry refused again.
The NGO appealed to the court, demanding to oblige the Ministry of Environmental Protection to provide the requested information in full, and to compensate the court fees of the plaintiff. The court hearings started on May 7 and ended on November 24, 2014.
In course of the proceedings the Ministry’s representative admitted that the Ministry had provided foreign journalists, visiting Armenia for filming a documentary on animal trafficking, with several copies of CITES (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, November 24-30, 2014).
According to the December 8 ruling, the Administrative Court obliged the Ministry to provide the requested information in full and to compensate the court fees of the plaintiff, including state duty, in the amount of 49,000 AMD (approximately 90 euros).