Nicosia/Madrid, 17 February 2017 – Access Info Europe this week addressed an in-person hearing in the Cypriot Parliament and called for the draft FOI law to be amended to remove fees for making requests and to reduce time limits for responses, in particular cutting down the possible 60 days extension for complex requests.
Speaking to the Cypriot Parliament’s Legal Committee on Thursday 16 February 2017, Andreas Pavlou, Campaigner and Researcher with Access Info, emphasised that access to information is a fundamental right and that lawmakers have a duty to ensure that this right can be exercised without having to pay charges.
“Cyprus risks becoming the only country in Europe to charge fees for submitting requests,” stated Andreas Pavlou.
“Not only would upfront charges dissuade people from exercising their human right, it is also a form of double taxation because citizens already pay taxes for the public administration to perform these basic functions like organising information,” he added.
Ireland was the only country in Europe to charge fees for making requests, but dropped this requirement back in 2014 after reform of their access to information law.
Exceptions to access
In conversations with the Committee members, Access Info Europe also stressed the need to meet European transparency standards by ensuring only limited exceptions to access in cases where disclosure would cause harm, unless there is an overriding public interest in disclosure.
Currently, the draft text includes absolute exceptions, and exceptions without public interest tests such as information relating to commercial interests which would leave little room for the public to hold public officials accountable for the way public procurement contracts are awarded, such as the much-delayed development of Eleftheria Square in Nicosia, or the changes to Limassol Marina.
For more information, please contact:
Luisa Izuzquiza, Communications Officer | Access Info Europe
Andreas Pavlou, RTI Campaigner and Researcher | Access Info Europe
Send an e-mail or call +34 913 656 558