Madrid, 21 October 2015 – Access Info Europe has welcomed Cypriot Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou’s commitment to adopt a strong access to information (Freedom of Information) law that will be “one of the best in the European Union”.
The pro-transparency organisation, headquartered in Madrid, urges the Cypriot government to act on this promise, noting that in order to bring the law into line with European and international standards, the government should recognise 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.
“The current draft text if adopted today would place Cyprus in position 97 out of 102 access to information laws worldwide. If the Cypriot government is serious about opening up to citizens and tackling corruption, then there must be significant improvements to the draft,” stated Andreas Pavlou, Campaigner & Researcher at Access Info Europe.
The draft text presented for consultation has 22 exceptions to access (of which some are absolute) – double the 11 exceptions contained in the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents. The Council of Europe requires that when a public official is considering whether to apply an exception that will limit access, they must address first whether releasing the information would cause any harm to the protected interest, and then, whether there is in fact an overriding public interest in disclosure.
“The President’s office, Council of Ministers, Parliament, and Judiciary must be included in Cyprus’ access to information law if there is to be any meaningful attempt to increase transparency of public institutions. The current text excludes them from any kind of public scrutiny,” added Pavlou.
The reaction of the Cypriot Justice Minister in Cypriot media came after the draft law was criticised by civil society groups in Cyprus and Europe, including the European Federation of Journalists.
For more information, please contact:
Andreas Pavlou | Access Info Europe
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