Yerevan, 6 April 2020
EaP CSF Armenian National Platform Statement on the Draft Law on Making Supplements to the RA Law “On Freedom of Information”
The Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum expresses concern about the supplement to the law “On Freedom of Information”, which aims to exclude the public from information about certain environmental topics. The Armenian National Platform calls on the Armenian authorities to refrain from handing in the said supplement to Parliament.
On April 2, 2020 the Government of Armenia approved the draft law on making supplements to the RA Law “On Freedom of Information”, which in the coming days will be submitted to the RA National Assembly.
According to the draft, “The provision of information on the environment may be denied if it may have a negative impact on the environment, including breeding sites of rare species.”
From the very first day of the draft’s circulation, the civil society has been raising the issues related to this initiative, calling on the RA Ministry of Environment, author of the draft law, to refrain from this provision envisaging secrecy.
- the proposed initiative contradicts the Aarhus Convention. In the justification of the draft, the authors make reference to the Convention, quoting it with incorrect translation and selectively (Article 4, paragraph 4, point h). The Convention mentions exclusively the possible restriction of information related to the breeding sites of rare species. Meanwhile, according to the draft, it appears that any information related to the environment can be restricted;
- based on this restriction, it turns out that any request by journalists, civil society to receive information on environment, may be rejected in case considered by this department as having a negative impact;
- the draft has been developed without representatives of the civil society operating in the field, and no proper public discussion has been organized so far;
- this change violates the principle of transparency adopted by the RA Government and restricts access to environmental information and public oversight.
Based on the above, we, members of the EaP CSF Armenian National Platform, which unites more than 230 CSOs, demand from the Government of Armenia to immediately annul the draft and not submit it to the National Assembly for further discussion, as it does not comply with the requirements of the domestic legislation regulating the freedom of information and international commitments.
Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum