Madrid, 30 July 2015 – Access Info Europe has urged the government of Cyprus to greatly improve its draft access to information law in order to meet basic international transparency standards.
An analysis of the draft text using the Right to Information Rating indicators found that Cyprus would come in at position 97 of 102 countries globally, scoring a dismal 57 of 150 points. It would not be able to sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents.
In a submission sent to the Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, the pro-transparency organisation recommended significant amendments to the draft law such as recognising the fundamental nature of the right, including all public bodies in the law, reducing the number of exceptions, and removing other obstacles such as the requirement to provide ID when requesting information.
“In its current state, the Cypriot government will adopt an embarrassingly weak law,” stated Andreas Pavlou, Access Info Europe.
“It is unacceptable for the law to exclude from the outset important public institutions such as the President, Cabinet, Parliament, and Judiciary, as well as include 22 exceptions to access,” Pavlou added.
The proposed law contains 22 exceptions to access to information, many of which are vague and/or broad, and nine of which are absolute despite international standards requiring that all exceptions are subject to a harm test and public interest test.
Among its few positive elements the draft law includes limited provisions for proactive publication, and a broad definition of ‘information’.
A 2011 report by Access Info and Cypriot partners found that over 70% of requests sent to public bodies in the Republic of Cyprus result in administrative silence, whilst only 7% of answers contained the information requested. Recommendations included the adoption of access to information legislation in the Republic of Cyprus.
Currently, Cyprus is one of only two countries in Europe without an access to information law, the other being Luxembourg, which has a draft law in the Parliament.
For more information, please contact:
Andreas Pavlou | Access Info Europe
Send an e-mail or call +34 913 656 558