Freedom of Information Center of Armenia.

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Freedom of Information Commissioner


Anna Maralyan

The Freedom of Information Commissioner's Office is a public body that is completely independent of the Government in the performance of its functions. It reports directly to the Parliament in majority of states and have an international role as well as a national one.


The purpose of creating such an institution was/is to oversee the administration and enforce the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (hereinafter FOI Act), and to thereby ensure access to the records of public agencies for individuals seeking information. At the same time it is to protect personal information. Another aim of FOI Commissioner is rationalization of the exemption provisions, so that information only will be withheld where this is in the public interest.

Functions of the FOI Commissioner should include:

·         Auditing agencies’ FOI performance;

·         Preparing an annual report on FOI;

·         Collecting statistics on FOI requests and decisions;

·         Publicizing the Act in the community;

·         Issuing guidelines on how to administer the Act;

·         Providing training to agencies;

·         Providing information, advice and assistance in respect of FOI requests (influencing function)
– at any stage of the FOI request
– at the request of the applicant, the agency or a third party;

·         Providing legislative policy advice on the FOI Act;

·         Protect personal information;

·         Providing access to official information unless there are good reasons for non-disclosure (for instance public security);

·         Reviewing (on application) decisions of public bodies in relation to FOI requests and where necessary,  making binding, new decisions;

·         Enforcement (legal sanctions against those who ignore or refuse to accept their obligations);

·         Educational function (conducts educational workshops and speaking engagements for public agencies throughout the country);


·         Ensuring that agencies are aware of their responsibilities under the FOI Act;

·         Ensuring that members of the public are aware of the FOI Act and their rights;

·         Providing assistance to members of the public and agencies on matters relevant to the FOI Act;

·         Recommending to Parliament legislative or administrative changes that could be made to help the objects of the FOI Act be achieved.


·         Publish guidance and information to encourage organizations to achieve good practice and help individuals to understand their rights;

·         Resolve eligible complaints from people;

·         Maintain the public register of data controllers;

·         Approve publication schemes adopted by public authorities under the FOI Act;

·         Prosecute those who commit offences under the legislation;

·         Speak to groups to raise awareness of the law and how it works;

·         Influence thinking on privacy and access issues;

What is covered:

·         Personal information, promoting access to official information;

·         Data protection;

·         Privacy & electronic communications;

·         Freedom of information;

·         Provide tools & resources;



If s/he considers a decision to be inadequate, s/he may require that a new one be issued. S/he may also require any person who s/he considers has information relevant to a case or investigation to provide it to him/her. Furthermore, s/he may require the person to attend before him/her to present the information. S/he can enter any premises occupied by a public body and require any person found on the premises to provide him/her with records (documents) which s/he may copy and retain for a reasonable period. S/he may carry out an investigation at any time into the practices and procedures adopted by public bodies.

Anyone who hinders the Commissioner in the performance of his/her review or investigative functions is guilty of an offence and may have a fine imposed or be imprisoned or both. Delays beyond a prescribed period for the production of documents are considered by the Commissioner as a refusal. Poor Records Management would be regarded as an inadequate reason for refusal.

Ways of operation:

·         Hearings;

·         Education;

·         Litigation (The FOI Commission’s legal staff is authorized to represent the Commission in all matters affecting the Commission and to defend Commission decisions that are appealed, in the superior and appellate courts).

Who can address the FOI Commissioner?

Any person (legal and/or natural) denied the right to inspect, or to get a copy of a public information, record, documents or denied access to a meeting of a public agency, may address and file a complaint against the public agency within limited time, that differ from state to state  (usually 20-30 days).


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