Thursday, December 15, 2005

International updates

The newly passed Government Information Release Law is an important step on the road to improving Taiwan's freedom of speech and is also a guarantee for the rights of the people, the Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ) said Wednesday.

The Legislative Yuan approved the law Dec. 6, which allows people to have more direct access to government information, to be a part of public policy-making and to oversee government operations.

MISA FOI Bill - final version

Download Bill (word format)

Government, United Russia Oppose Ryzhkov's Information Freedom Bill
Report by Aleksandr Braterskiy: "A Sword Under Wraps"; Democrats accuse the government of sabotaging the fight against corruption

Izvestiya (Moscow Edition)
Tuesday, December 13, 2005 T01:07:41Z
The authors of a draft law on openness of information believe that officials will take less bribes for providing official permits and documents if they are criminally liable for refusing to disclose such information. The Duma has already been refusing to discuss this law for
a whole year.

The authors of the law (among them experts from the Independent Electoral Institute) make reference to the president's address to the Federal Assembly, in which he said that there was a need to pass the draft law, and they accuse the government and the United Russia faction of attempting to delay the adoption of this document.

"We are putting a sword into the hands of society, a sword that it will
be able to use to beat corruption", State Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov
stated on Thursday. He is co-author of the draft law "On Guaranteeing
the Availability of Information on the Decisions of the Organs of State
Power and Local Self-Government".

The head of the Indem Foundation Georgiy Saratov, who is conducting research into the level of corruption in Russia, supports the authors of the draft law. According to Satarov, entrepreneurs frequently face corruption in Russian state bodies: "Businessmen are unable to obtain douments that regulate business, even though this is not a matter of classified information but of information that is entirely routine in nature".

In Ryzhkov's opinion, if the law that he has drafted is actually passed the level of corruption may fall significantly. In particular, the draft law states that justification must be given for any refusal to provide information to citizens - "it must indicate the reasons for the refusal, and state organs must be under an obligation to issue copies of documents free of charge to interested citizens, while archive funds and information resources must be available to people who are visiting state structures".

Ryzhkov hopes that the law may even be adopted at its first reading in the current State Duma and he believes that, if the law enters into force, there will be a "revolution" in the country. But lawyer Valeriy Grebenikkov, who is a member of the United Russia faction in the State Duma, is confident that there will be no "revolution", although he does agree with Ryzhkov that the existing order violates the constitutional rights of citizens: "We have a situation in which officials do not make information available to citizens, but there are other laws available to
punish them. What we must do is not pass a law but ask the procurator's office why it accepts this situation".

(Description of Source: Moscow Izvestiya (Moscow Edition) in Russian --
Moscow Edition of popular daily bought by Gazprom in 2005)

No comments: