Cyprus government flawed interpretation of European transparency standards

Cyprus government flawed interpretation of European transparency standards

[UPDATE: Madrid, 11 December 2017 – On 25 April, the Cyptriot Government answered the letter sent by Access Info raising questions regarding to Cyprus Access to Information Law. You can find a copy of the letters here : alt ]

Madrid, 15 June 2017 – Access Info Europe and six Cypriot civil society organisations [1] have raised concerns with the Cyprus government that the future draft access to information law would violate European standards if adopted in its current form.

In particular, they warned the exceptions to transparency are seriously out of line with the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents, in spite of the government claiming to have taken this Convention “into account”.

The Cypriot government cannot claim to have taken the Convention into account as it has fundamentally misinterpreted this minimum standard,” stated Andreas Pavlou, Access Info Europe.

The civil society organisations explained that the five blanket exceptions completely blocking access to unclassified government-held information are not permitted by international and European standards, which require any limits to transparency to only be applied if release of the information would cause harm, unless there is an overriding public interest in disclosure.

The current text of the Cypriot draft law will make it impossible for the public to find out how much companies will get from the Cypriot government, for example, from procurement contracts. This makes it even more difficult to prevent misspending of public funds or corruption,” added Pavlou.

Countries such as Greece, the UK, Slovenia, and Slovakia regularly publish the contracts made with private companies, for example to resurface old roads or to supply stationary for a government department.

Recent jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights has recognised the right of access to information as an inherent part of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights protection of freedom of expression, which may only be limited in exceptional circumstances.

Cyprus is the only country in Europe (other than Luxembourg) to not have legislation that guarantees the right of access to information.

You can read a copy of the letter to the Ministry, here: alt

You can read the previous correspondence here (the first letter to the Ministry) and here (the reply from the Ministry).

For more information, please contact:

Luisa Izuzquiza, Communications Officer | Access Info Europe
or
Andreas Pavlou, RTI Campaigner and Researcher | Access Info Europe

Send an e-mail or call +34 913 656 558

Notes:

[1] Cyprus Community Media Centre, IKME, Accept – LGBT Cyprus, Future Worlds Center, Join2Media, Politeia.

Photo: European People’s Party via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

2018-11-13T10:03:19+00:00
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