Kazakhstan: Draft Law on Access to Information
24 Aug 2012
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In this analysis, ARTICLE 19 reviews the April 2012 version of Kazakhstan’s Draft Law on Access to Information (“Draft Law”). Access to information legislation has been a topic of discussion in Kazakhstan since 2010, with several draft proposals being produced by various groups. The Draft Law has been prepared by a working group established within Mazhilis (the lower chamber) of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
ARTICLE 19’s analysis notes a number of positive aspects of the proposed legal regulation, such as the large pool of those who may make disclosure requests, the lists of information which ought to be publicly available without request, and the right of access to public meetings. Nevertheless, a number of features of the Draft Law are of concern to ARTICLE 19. These include the vague legal language used, the regime of exceptions which are not compliant with international standards, the lack of monitoring and enforcement procedures, and the specific powers of the Ombusdman, which will allow him/her to play a key role in the implementation of the access to information law. This analysis makes recommendations for improving the draft Law based on international legal standards.
ARTICLE 19 calls on the working group to examine this analysis carefully and to implement these recommendations. We stand ready to provide further assistance in the drafting of this important piece of legislation.
Summary of recommendations:
- References to other laws should be avoided in the Draft Law if possible. If included, the laws to which the references are made should be specified;
- Articles 6, Article 11 (1) and Article 32 of the Draft Law should be deleted as they are redundant and relate to obvious facts;
- Article 8, para 1, item 3 of the Draft Law - recognising the right of information users “to refuse to receive information” – should be deleted as illogical;
- The criterion for the exception relating to the justification of the legality of the restriction should be removed from Article 7(1) item 4. as it contradicts access to information standards;
- The judicial and legislative branches of the government should provide access to information and should be included among bodies that are obliged to respond to requests for information in Article 9 of the Draft Law;;
- The Ombudsman should be given further responsibility to educate the public about the Access to Information Law and ensure its proper implementation;
- The Ombudsman’s powers should be provided in the Draft Law in detail, including the procedures for filing complaints to the Ombudsman and the investigations he/she can carry out;
- The Draft Law should establish a complaint review procedure and ensure that the review bodies are publicly accountable for the failure to respect the Law.
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