Information access as acid test for state policy
08/05-2012 10:48, Bishkek – 24.kg news agency , by Islam DUVANAEV
Not long ago the issue on reforming information access laws is being keenly discussed in Kyrgyzstan. NGO have already put forward initiatives on working out a new bill on access to information of economic entities and state agencies. First of all, amendments are about giving information on request.
It is not a secret information access is an indicator of policy of any state. A member of the International Media Lawyers Association, our compatriot, Ruslan Daiyrbekov, told 24.kg news agency to what extent this component is developed in Kyrgyzstan and abroad.
- Ruslan, what are shortcomings of the Kyrgyz Law on Access to Information held by Public Bodies and Local Self-Government Bodies? Experts have common opinion that this document must be reconsidered.
- Despite shortcomings, this law, according to the Rights and Democracy Center’s Index, takes 13th rank among 89 world countries. Only laws of Ukraine and Azerbaijan are better in the post-Soviet space. However, it is possible to consider as serious shortcomings that the law doesn’t legislate to create an independent agency responsible for appealing against decisions not to give information by office holders. In Kyrgyzstan, the Ombudsman Institute fulfills partially these functions. Unfortunately, the Ombudsman doesn’t have right to consider complaints of actions of political institutions; he can only give recommendations.
Public bodies have to inform the population about their work but in many cases citizens are refused to get necessary information.
Besides, another shortcoming of this law is absence of ability to send information request to legal bodies working with the state. For example, companies that supply goods or render services in accordance with terms of public contracts or procurements. This regards to obtaining information about private entities overlording in the market.
- What is information access situation in Kazakhstan?
- To date Kazakh laws don’t have normative acts on mechanisms of realization of constitutional rights. Some norms are fragmentary and dispersed throughout various normative acts. This points at necessity of uniform legal regulation of this issue. Besides it is needed to ensure observance of this right detailed in the Constitution of Kazakhstan.
Civil society and international non-governmental organizations like OSCE, Article 19, Rights and Democracy Center are broadly involved in discussion and expertise of this legislative initiative. The text of the document is not final, members of the working group hope it will meet national and international standards after finishing.
- What will it add to Kazakh legislation?
- The bill pays special attention to procedure of sending a request and receiving an answer as well as to time-frames and order of its consideration. Besides, it includes a list of information about work of public bodies and self-government bodies required to be published in information systems of common use. Thus, the bill will warrant access to information of public bodies and makes them more transparent and open.
- Do you use an experience of international institutions in your work?
- In November, 2011 I visited Kiev as a member of the working group to explore Ukrainian experience in passing the Law on Access to Public Information. It takes 9th place on the list of 89 world countries and is the best among CIS-countries. Thus, six months later after adoption of the law, population sent 1, 750 queries to the presidential administration of Ukraine and 4, 500 – to other central public bodies. These queries were processed within 5 days due to the law. The success is explained by personal responsibility of a head of a public body.
- Well, is it possible to make the law forcible in Kyrgyzstan?
- The law is not panacea, this is just a tool. Public interest and desire to use mechanisms specified in the law are needed to realize your right to information access.
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