More information, more freedom: A package of amendments to the law will ease and enhance access to information

Armenian citizens, foreigners and journalists will soon be able to get information from state and public institutions much more easily due to an amendments package to the ‘Law on Freedom of Information’ that Armenian lawmakers are expected to adopt.

The Yerevan office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) ‘Freedom of Information Center’ NGO (non-governmental organization), MP Victor Dallakyan, along with the Ministry of Justice of Armenia jointly drafted a bill on making amendments in the law adopted in 2003.

The ‘Law on Freedom of Information’ adopted in 2003 regulates the relations between citizens and journalists (willing to get information) on the one hand and state and private institutions (village administrations, ministries, private companies having monopoly positions, hospitals) on the other.

The Law, which is in circulation for already six years, needs amendments in order to correspond to the amended version of the Armenian Constitution (2005), to correct several shortcomings, as well as to make the process of providing information easier and complete.

“Any law used for a while needs to be amended, and this very initiative is born from this necessity,” co-author of the bill Dallakyan said during a discussion Wednesday.

Last week the MP submitted the draft to the National Assembly of Armenia, and since it is a joint initiative with the Ministry of Justice, it will be brought for discussion in a month.

Shushan Doydoyan, director and founder of the ‘Freedom of Information Center’, stressed that the initiative will promote settlement of several problematic issues.

“There will be no need for subordinate regulatory acts on providing information, moreover, the issues of online applications and payments (for example, for copying a great number of papers) for the provided information will also be regulated,” she says.

During the discussion organized by the initiative of the OSCE Yerevan office, ambassador Sergey Kapinos, head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, stressed that the process is very important. “I hope that the drafting of these legislative amendments will pave the way for easing the access to the information provided by the Government .”

The bill on amendments was drawn during the past several months, with the participation of representatives from civil society, mass media and state institutions, taking into consideration all the suggestions and conclusions made during round-table discussions.