Freedom of Information Center of Armenia.

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FOI annual award ceremony

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Awards winners

The annual Golden Key and Rusty Lock Awards Ceremony of the Freedom of Information Center of Armenia took place on October 19, 2021. More than 80 representatives of mass media, state agencies, non-governmental and international organizations took part in the online event.

The traditional event, held for the 19th time, was a jubilee this year; the Freedom of Information Center of Armenia celebrates the 20th anniversary of its foundation. 2021 is also a jubilee for Open Government Partnership; this year marks the 10th anniversary of the membership of the RA Government in this international initiative.

“The award ceremony, dedicated to the freedom of information, is an effective way for FOICA to encourage activities open to the public and ensure government transparency and accountability. This year the journalistic community actively participated in the selection of open and closed state agencies. The representatives of more than 70 media outlets have nominated their candidates for the Golden Key and Rusty Lock Awards. Each of these nominations is a unique case of exercising the right to information. The results were summarized by the specialized jury of FOICA,” said Shushan Doydoyan, the President of FOICA.

The RA Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan greeted the participants with a video message saying, “Information is of incalculable value, as public trust in state bodies greatly depends on the timely delivery of information. The state must ensure fair access to information for all. You have to be honest with people, in line with their needs and new technologies. All those who will receive Golden Keys or Rusty Locks today should keep in mind that it is possible to achieve real human protection in the state only due to transparent, public, accountable work and proper participatory decision-making process. I wish the Freedom of Information Center new accomplishments on its mission.”

Hovhannes Yeritsyan, the project coordinator at “Future Today” of UNDP/Kolba Lab, welcomed the event participants saying, “In the era of technological advances, when every day a new source of information emerges, freedom of information continues to be one of the most vulnerable aspects. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to work vigorously to keep all the potential stakeholders “in the know” about what happens next to them. However, we need to do it in an intelligent way in order to maximize the outcome of our efforts. This initiative is a paragon of smart work.”

In her opening speech Lilya Afrikyan, the secretary of OGP Armenia working group, noted, “We are glad that the Freedom of Information Center has been standing by the Open Government Partnership initiative for already 10 years, supporting the government with its expertise to make the access to information even more targeted and timely.”

This year the symbolic Golden Key award was awarded to state and non-governmental organizations that demonstrated the best experience of freedom of information in 2020.

  • The FOICA Special Prize was awarded to the Unified Educational and Information Portal of the OGP Action Plan N4 for ensuring access to education and information during the pandemic.
  • The official website of the RA Ministry of Economy was recognized as the Best Official Website for ensuring access to information.
  • The symbolic Golden Key was awarded to the “Public Awareness and Monitoring Center” NGO for effectively exercising the right to information.
  • Narek Martirosyan, a journalist at, and Tehmine Yenokyan, an environmental journalist, were awarded in the category of Journalist Most Actively Using FOI Law.
  • The residents of the Physics gitavan (a settlement for scientific institution and scientists) received a Golden Key in the category of a civic initiative that fights against the violated right to FOI and submits a group request for information.

There were two categories for the negative symbol of the award, Rusty Lock.

  • The RA National Assembly received a negative award in the category of a state agency threatening the freedom of information as a result of developing and adopting new legal regulations restricting the rights of journalists without participatory decision-making processes.
  • The Ministry of Defense and Yerevan Municipality were awarded a Rusty Lock in the category of a state agency violating the right to information of citizens.

Numerous inquiries from the Freedom of Information Center, as well as from the media and journalists, addressed to the RA Ministry of Defense, remained unanswered, or received very general and/or unreasonable and late answers. At the same time, the implementation of freedom of information by the Ministry in the post-war period received the lowest rating.

  • In the field of access to information related to urban development, Yerevan Municipality is seriously violating the right to information. A number of complaints and inquiries from FOICA and citizens remained unanswered, or received very vague and unreasonable answers.

The event was held online, so in the coming days the FOICA team will personally hand over the awards to the winners.

The annual Golden Key and Rusty Lock Award Ceremony, dedicated to the International Day for Universal Access to Information, was first held in 2003. Read about the previous years’ results of the award ceremony here.

The event is organized by the Freedom of Information Center NGO within the framework of UNDP/Kolba Lab project “Future Today. Empowering Women, Youth and Children for Deepening Democracy in Armenia,” funded by the European Union. This announcement was created with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Freedom of Information Center NGO and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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