Armenia

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  • 3 March 2016

    Armenian Court Rules Against Fees for Personal Information

    Armenia’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the government can’t charge persons who request their personal information. The Freedom of Information Center brought the case against the State Cadastre Committee, according to a posting. The Constitutional Court annulled Article 71 and Article 32 (2) of the Law on State Registration of Rights of Property to the […]

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  • 15 October 2015

    Armenia Sets Regulation About Electronic Requests

    Armenia has approved regulations that will electronic requests for information. “The civil society was waiting for this Act more than 12 years since adoption of the FOI Law in 2003,” according to Shushan Doydoyan, director of the Freedom of Information Center of Armenia, who has just been selected as the head of the newly established Personal Data […]

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News Archive

  • 11 September 2014

    FOI Center of Armenia Issues Comprehensive Evaluation

    Using a new and comprehensive assessment tool, the Freedom of Information Center of Armenia has evaluated and compared the level of transparency and openness of the Armenian government bodies. The center used 53 criteria to create the transparency ratings and plans to repeat the study annually. Thirty-seven state administration bodies were evaluated this year including […]

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  • 22 April 2014

    Tackling Corruption in Armenia With High- and Low-Tech Tools

    By Jed Miller The following article appeared April 15 on the Voices blog of the Open Society Foundations. Data publishing is just another form of news publishing. An aspiring government watchdog in Armenia is facing an uphill battle. Weak safeguards against corruption and a government-dominated media have led to widespread distrust of elected officials and […]

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  • 10 January 2013

    Armenian Center Wins FOI Cases, Collects Legal Fees

    The FOI Center of Armenia has won a court case in which it sought access to information on spending in a pre-electoral campaign, according to an FOICA announcement. The court ruled on Dec. 21, 2012, that the Democratic Party of Armenia must provide information requested by the FOICA on April 25. The party ignored the […]

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  • 16 December 2011

    Results of Monitoring Study in Armenia Released by Center

    The Freedom of Information Center of Armenia has issued a comprehensive report entitled “Freedom of Information in the Republic of Armenia: 2011 Monitoring.” “The biggest problem is the absence of culture among many officials to work openly and transparently, as most of them are still not used to responding to public demands for information and […]

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  • 28 November 2011

    Three Countries Join OGP; Disclosure Policy Criticized

    Demark, Armenia and Paraguay have joined the Open Government Partnership, bringing OGP membership to 49. Their commitments come as the OGP prepares for a meeting in Brazil Dec. 7-8 and as comments arrive on the organization’s proposed disclosure policy. In other OGP-related developments: –          Tanzania’s efforts to prepare its action plan were faulted in several […]

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  • 15 July 2011

    Armenia Group Publishes Latest in Blacklist Series

    The Freedom of Information Center of Armenia (FOICA) has “blacklisted” six officials for violating the Freedom of Information Law during the second quarter of 2012. The blacklist is topped by Transport and Communication Minister Manuk Vardanyan followed by Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan, Emergency Situations Minister Armen Yeritsyan, Hamalsaranakanner Condominium chairman Armen Tadevosyan, Yerevan Municipality Information […]

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  • 17 May 2011

    Blacklisted Armenian Mayor Retreats on Access Charges

    Named to a “Black List” by the Freedom of Information Center of Armenia (FOICA), the mayor of Stepanavan acted to eliminate charges for access to information. His action came May 13, three days after release or publication of the quarterly list, according to a Center statement. Besides making it on the Center’s black list, the […]

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  • 22 May 2009

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    ? ??? 2009 ???? ?? ??????? ????????? ? ?????? ???? ????????? ?????? ??????? ??????? ? ?????????? ? ?????????  ???????? ? ??????? ??????, ?????? — ????? 25 ?????????? ??????? ?????????? ?? ??????????? ??????? ????????? ? 8 ?? 11  ??? 2009 ??? ?????????? ??????????????? ? ??????? ? ??????? ? ??? ????????? ????? ????????? ??? ?????????? ????? ??????? […]

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  • 22 May 2009

    Caucasus FOI Advocates Discuss Common Problems and Plan Cooperation

    May 2009 Workshop in Georgia Compares FOI Laws and Practices Across Region Telavi, Georgia — Some 25 freedom of information advocates and practitioners from the Caucasus region convened on May 8-11, 2009, to compare the laws and the practices across the region and to outline some common strategies to strengthen the right of access in […]

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  • 9 December 2005

    Armenia: Freedom of Information Awards Winners of 2005 Announced

    On December 9, 2005 the Freedom of Information Center (Yerevan, Armenia) announced its Freedom of Information Awards winners for 2005. Read more >>. Be Sociable, Share! Tweet

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  • 9 May 2005

    Article 19 Reports on Freedom of Information in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia

    A report from London-based NGO Article 19 on freedom of information legislation and its impact on the news media in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, finds that problems with implementation, state secrets legislation, and a Soviet-style predilection for excessive secrecy have created “the environment for arbitrary refusals, manipulation of information, and, in extreme cases, even release […]

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  • 9 May 2005

    REPORT: Article 19 on Freedom of Information in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

    A report from London-based NGO Article 19 on freedom of information legislation and its impact on the news media in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, finds that problems with implementation, state secrets legislation, and a Soviet-style predilection for excessive secrecy have created "the environment for arbitrary refusals, manipulation of information, and, in extreme cases, even release […]

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  • 23 February 2004

    ARMENIA: Amendments threaten to undermine FOI law

    Freedom of Information Civic Initiative Yerevan, 19.02.2004 STATEMENT Proposed amendments to the Armenian Law on Freedom of Information will undermine the right of access to information if adopted by the Armenian parliament. The amendments, to the FOI law adopted in September 2003, limit the information which should be made available under the law and provide […]

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  • 20 February 2004

    Armenia: Amendments Undermine FOI Law

    The Freedom of Information Civic Initiative issued a public statement suggesting that the proposed amendments to the Armenian Law on Freedom of Information will undermine the right of access to information if adopted by the Armenian parliament. The amendments, to the FOI law adopted in September 2003, limit the information which should be made available […]

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  • 11 October 2003

    “The Right to Know is Gaining around the World”

    by Thomas Blanton The International Herald Tribune, October 11, 2003, p. 6 Last month (September 23, 2003), Armenia became the 51st country in the world to guarantee its citizens the right to know what their government is up to. Armenia’s new freedom of information law is the latest outpost of the worldwide movement towards opening […]

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  • 23 September 2003

    Armenian Parliament Adopts FOI Law

    The Association of Investigative Journalists of Armenia reports that the Armenian Freedom of Information Law has been adopted by the National Parliament today with all 100 NP’s voting in support of the law. The text of the law can be found here. Be Sociable, Share! Tweet

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  • 1 June 2002

    World Bank Begins Pilot Programs on Disclosure

    Some 20 countries are about to embark on pilot programs with the World Bank in which they will disclose and disseminate more information than they have in the past – that is, more than what Bank policy currently requires. The exact dimensions of this effort will become clearer once the Bank makes an official announcement […]

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links

LEGAL DOCUMENTS

Constitution of the Republic of Armenia

 

Law on Freedom of Information

 

Law on State and Official Secrets. 1996 [in Armenian]

 

ORGANIZATIONS

Freedom of Information Center of Armenia

 

Association of Investigative Journalists of Armenia (AIJA)

 

Civil Society Institute

 

Yerevan Press Club

 

Media Initiatives Center

 

OTHER RESOURCES

Under Lock and Key: Freedom of Information and the Media in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Article 19, April 2005
[PDF - 1.9 MB]

 

AIJA, Center for Freedom of Information "The right to access to information: Constitutional and legal protection of the right to access to information" (2004)

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Click to view.

Text from the freedominfo.org Global Survey: Freedom of Information and Access to Government Records Around the World, by David Banisar (updated July 2006)

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Law on Freedom of Information was unanimously approved by the Parliament on 23 September 2003 and went into force in November 2003.(1) The law allows any citizen to demand information from state and local bodies, state offices, organizations financed by the state budget, private organizations of public importance and state officials. Bodies must normally provide the information in five days. Oral requests are required to be responded to immediately.

There are mandatory exemptions for information that contains state, official bank or trade secrets, infringes the privacy of a person, contains pre-investigative data, discloses data that needs to be protected for a professional activity such as privilege, or infringes copyright or intellectual property rights. Information cannot be withheld if it involves urgent cases that threaten public security and health or national disasters and their aftermaths, presents the overall economic, environmental, health trade and culture situation of Armenia, or if withholding the information will have a negative impact on the implementation of state programs related to socio-economic, scientific, spiritual and cultural development.

Appeals can be made to the Human Rights Ombudsman.(2) Appeals can also be made to a court. There have been a number of court cases on access to information.(3)

Public bodies must appoint an official responsible for the law. They must also publish information yearly relating to the activities and services, budget, forms, lists of personnel (including education and salary), recruitment procedures, lists of information, program of public events, and information on the use of the Act. If the body maintains an official web site, then it must publish the information on the site.

After two years, the government has not adopted regulations on procedures for supplying information and for storing and indexing of information and not all bodies have appointed information officials. The Freedom of Information Center states there are significant social and administrative problems starting with a general ignorance of the law by officials and citizens. Other problems are a continuation of secrecy practices started in the Soviet period, a lack of citizen participation and a general mistrust in the judicial system.(4) Many bodies deny requests without using legal grounds, refuse to respond to requests, and demand reasons for the request, which is prohibited by the law. A 2004 study by Article 19 and groups in Armenia found that most journalists and public officials were aware of the law. However, 57 percent of the journalists said that officials had given them false information. The lack of regulations was also cited as a major hindrance.(5) In her 2004 report the Ombudsman stated that "there is a problem with central and local authorities, at all levels, complying with the legally-prescribed procedure on the provision of information. There is a widespread practice of groundlessly refusing to provide information to individuals or NGOs."(6) She also noted that some bodies such as the Yerevan Mayor's Office were continuing to deny information even after a court order to release the information and that bodies "arbitrarily" interpreted "notions of 'commercial secrecy' or 'personal data'."

The government committed to improve public access to information as a part of its 2003 anti-corruption strategy. The OECD's Anti-Corruption Network for Transition Economies recommended in January 2004 that the government improve the access and response procedures as part of that strategy.(7) Another review by the OECD in 2005 recommended that the government should "consider establishing an office of an Information Commissioner to receive appeals under the Law on Access to Information; limit discretion of officials and the scope of information that could be withheld; enhance cooperation with civil society."(8)

In 2004, the government proposed amendments to the law that would have expanded exemptions but also broadened the scope of the law to cover many private bodies. The amendments were strongly objected to and were not adopted.

The 1996 Law on State and Official Secrets sets rules on the classification and protection of information relating to military and foreign relations.(9) It creates three categories of classification: "Of Special Importance", Top Secret and Secret. Information that is classified as "Of Special Importance" or Top Secret is a state secret and can be classified for thirty years. Secret information can be classified for ten years. Disclosing secrets or breaking rules on handling of state secrets is punishable under Article 306 and 307 of the Criminal Code.

Armenia signed the Aarhus Convention in June 1998 and ratified it in August 2001.(10) No legislation implementing it has been adopted. The Law on Protection of the Population in Emergencies requires that authorities notify the public of major emergencies. The Article 19 survey of public officials found that only 17.5 percent of them were aware of the Convention.

The Law on Personal Data provides for the right of citizens to obtain personal information about themselves from public or private bodies.(11) They can also demand that incorrect information be corrected. Appeal is to a court.

2004 freedominfo.org Global Survey Results - Armenia

NOTES

1. Law on Freedom of Information. http://www.foi.am/en/content/53/.

2. Homepage: http://www.ombuds.am/main/en/9/27/139/.

3. See Center for Freedom of Information: http://www.foi.am/en/rcontent/14/.

4. Mavvel Badalyan, Implementation of the Freedom of Information Law in Armenia. OSCE Second South Caucasus Media Conference, November 2005.

5. Article 19, Freedom of Information and the Media in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, February 2004.

6. Annual Report - Activities of the Republic of Armenia's Human Rights Defender, and on Violations of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Armenia During 2004.

7. Anti-Corruption Network for Transition Economies, Regional Anti-Corruption Action Plan for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Ukraine: Armenia - Summary of assessment and recommendations, 18 June 2004.

8. OECD, Fighting Corruption in Transition Economies: Armenia, 2005.

9. Law on State and Official Secrets, 1996. http://www.internews.am/legislation/russian/laws2001-arm/gaxtniq.zip (in Armenian)

10. See Regional Environmental Centre, Doors to Democracy, Current Trends and Practices in Public Participation in Environmental Decisionmaking in the Newly Independent States, June 1998. http://www.rec.org/REC/Publications/PPDoors/NIS/cover.html

11. Law on Personal Data, 8 October 2002.

 

 

Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.