Freedom of Information Center of Armenia.

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Marzpetarans started working openly and publicly


In February this year the Freedom of Information Center sent information-seeking inquiries to  leaders of 10 provinces (marzes) (excluding Yerevan), in which it requested the governors to provide the FOICA with the copies of the resolutions passed by them during the 4th quarter of 2008. Let us note with pleasure that no inquiry remained unanswered. However, there were some problems with the deadlines.  

Tavush, Shirak, Kotayk and Aragatsotn marzpetarans were among those who answered the inquiries within 5-day time, while Ararat and Gegharkunik marzpetarans responded 9 days later, i.e. 4 days late, and Syunik and Lori marzpetarans – 11 days later, i.e. 6 days late. Lori marzpetaran responded 12 days later and Armavir marzpetaran – 20 days later.   

The worst index among the marzpetarans was with Armavir marzpetaran, which however is a result of subjective reasons. Parandzem Karapetyan, Chief of Staff of Armavir marzpetaran (who answered the inquiry) commented the delay as follows: “The Governor appended instructions for me to answer the inquiry, but I fell ill and did not go to work which resulted in delay with the answer.”    

Despite the fact that the inquiries were almost of the same nature, the answers, nonetheless, appeared to be of different content. Thus, the requested copies of the Governors’ resolutions were attached only to 5 of 10 answers received from marzes, viz. from Gegharkunik, Ararat, Syunik, Vayots Dzor and Aragatsotn. Incidentally, they were of different volume, for example the Gegharkunik Governor’s resolutions consisted of 103 pages, the Vayots Dzor Governor’s – 20 pages.  

In case with 6 inquiries, a reference was made to the official web site, where the resolutions of the governors had been placed. Only the answer from Syunik marzpetaran contained the copies of the governor’s resolutions and reference to the web site of Syunik marzpetaran.  

Only 2 of the received answers referred to the RA Law “On Freedom of Information”. The answer of the Kotayk Governor says that “they are ready to fulfill the requirements of the FOI Law”, the letter from Shirak marzpetaran referred to the RA FOI Law reminding that provision of information in excess of 10 pages shall be paid according to the above Law: “According to para. 2, sub-para. 2 of Article 10 of the RA Law “On Freedom of Information” no payment is charged for up to 10 pages of printed or copied information, while you required approximately 250 pages, which would incur certain expenses. The staff of Shirak marzpetaran being a state administrative body, cannot render paid services, therefore we suggest organizing photocopying the required documents at a time suitable for you in Gyumri with the help of our employees at any company providing paid services.”   

Incidentally, it should be noted that a certain amount is allocated for local self-governing bodies under a separate line in the budget for this year which is aimed at information provision. However no marzpetaran and community have taken use of this clause of the Law so far. 

P.S. It is noteworthy that the FOICA’s  has its contribution in making the work of marzpetarans public and transparent, since it regularly conducts training sessions with the representatives of marzpetarans and local self-governing bodies how to apply the FOI Law.   

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