Civil society warn Cyprus’ draft transparency law under threat if excessive exceptions persist

» This article is also available in Greek, here.

Madrid, 31 March 2017 – Access Info Europe and 30 international and Cypriot civil society organisations have today urged the government of Cyprus to guarantee that exceptions to access in its draft transparency law meet international standards.

The letter urges the Cypriot Justice Minister in charge of the law, Ionas Nicolaou, to reverse the unacceptable inclusion of five absolute exceptions

[1] as well as ensure that information may only be refused if its disclosure would or would be likely to harm a protected interest, unless there is an overriding public interest in access.

The minister has previously committed to Cyprus having one of the strongest transparency laws in Europe, so it is disappointing that the proposal currently in the Parliamentary Committee does not fully guarantee important but basic right to information principles,” stated Andreas Pavlou, RTI Campaigner and Researcher at Access Info Europe.

Access Info asserts that public bodies should be required to balance the need to avoid harm to the protected interest against the public interest in disclosure. International and European transparency standards are clear that when disclosure of information is denied, requesters must be given clear reasons as to why the exception has been applied.

Absolute exceptions to access information held by public bodies will severely limit the ability of citizens to hold their public officials accountable, tackle corruption, and participate in decision making,” added Pavlou.

The Cypriot government is unable to sign or ratify the 2009 Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents as it still does not have a transparency law that meets this minimum standard. Cyprus is the only country in Europe, other than Luxembourg, to not have a law guaranteeing the right of access to information.

The law is currently being reviewed in the Legal Committee of the Cypriot Parliament.

You can read the letter sent to the Justice Minister, here: alt

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] As specified in Article 19(1) – access through other methods, information related to or provided by security forces, court records, parliamentary information, information provided on the condition of confidentiality and secrecy.

Photo: EU2016 SK via Flickr (CC0 1.0)

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