Handbook on the Freedom of Information in the South Caucasus Countries
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2012 – Transparency International Georgia, Transparency International Azerbaijan and Transparency International Armenia published the report “Handbook on the Freedom of Information in the South Caucasus Countries”. This report was produced as a part of the regional research project “Freedom of Information in the South Caucasus”. The project is financed from the Transition Promotion Program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.
The main findings:
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have made significant progress toward formally guaranteeing freedom of information to its citizens.
From all three jurisdictions Armenia and Azerbaijan seem to have the most extensive legal provisions guaranteeing access to information.
Only in Azerbaijan an independent oversight body to control compliance with freedom of information requirements was created, however de facto this is not an effective mechanism.
In Azerbaijan and Armenia both Administrative Offences and Criminal Codes provide liability for illegal refusal to provide information. In Georgia there is no such responsibility provided in the law.
The majority of Armenians, Azerbaijanis and Georgians (more than 50%) would not exercise their right of freedom to information in order to access public information related to the officials’ salary, public procurement, party financing, defense, education and not even private ownership.
The present handbook is a detailed compilation of international and national standards relevant for South Caucasus region on freedom of information. The aim of this handbook is to serve as a primary source to anyone who is interested in the right to access to information. Though the present study does not aim primarily at identifying the de facto problems and shortcomings related to the right to freedom of information in the three countries under review, it nevertheless tests different public agencies in performing their duty to provide requested information under the relevant laws. At the same time the study looks at the public opinion on the right to access to information in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in order to reveal the degree of awareness and knowledge among the population about their fundamental right to know.
The survey was conducted by CRRC, you can browse the survey data on CRRC's website, by selecting the Caucasus Barometer 2011 Georgia survey. (The questions used for this survey start with the letters TI.)