Freedom of Information Center of Armenia.

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Media about FOICA

"Aravot" daily" Information stands exist, news – not always!"


On 17 June 2010, by a publication “Don’t the Information Stands Serve their Purpose?”, we were informed that in regional center of Syunik – in Kapan, instead of the decisions of the mayor and the aldermen on the “Kapan community informant” information stands people had posted their private announcements about selling cars, houses, etc. After our warning the City Hall had cleaned the stands, and the citizens had posted their announcements elsewhere. By the initiative of the “Freedom of Information Center of Armenia” NGO and with the finances from the USAID not only in Kapan, but also in 44 more counties of Armenia (9 cities and 35 villages) such information stands were installed or will be installed in the near future.

There should be 3 stands in each village and 7 - in each town, with a total number of 210 stands. In a conversation FOICA President Shushan Doydoyan told us that communities were given this important resource to voluntarily disseminate information, however, “our monitoring shows that in majority of the communities updates on the stands are rather rare. The municipalities do not realize that the faster and the more operatively the information under their possession reaches the public, the more will benefit their reputation.” Not disseminating information or leaving the stands empty is one issue. Another more unfortunate reality has been recorded. According to the second sub-point of the second point of the memorandum that the FOICA signs with mayors, municipalities are obliged “to use the information stands for exclusively public purposes, and not for commercial purposes.” However, monitoring shows that, for example in Ashtarak, the stand is used for exactly commercial purposes, with announcements about concerts, selling and buying apartments, acceptance into sport clubs, etc.
If the information stand in Kapan could not be locked, and citizens could post the announcements themselves, then the stands in Ashtarak had glass windows to lock, and the key was in the municipality. This means that the municipality was aware that advertisements appeared on the spot meant for information of public importance. “When encountering such realities we demand that the advertisement be removed. I would urge the municipalities to use this resource effectively, since with minimal expenses they are fulfilling the requirement of article 7 of the “Law on Freedom of Information”. This requirement obliges the publishing of the 13 groups of information – the work and services (to be) done for the public, the community budget, the forms of written inquiries and advisory directions on filling in these forms, lists of staff positions, names of officials, work-place phone numbers, etc,” – said the FOICA President.

FOICA Educational Programs Coordinator Anahit Kocharyan noticed, that decisions of aldermen come into force at the moment of official publishing, and posting on information stands is considered an official publishing. “The city municipality of Ashtarak persistently does not fulfill the obligations defined in the memorandum. We have turned to the regional administration – they remove the advertisement, but after some days it is again posted,” – announced Anahit Kocharyan. As for Ijevan, it has made much more positive steps. Here one of the seven information stands was stole, and the city municipality has replaced it with its own means.

“An information stand is a means-resource for disseminating and receiving information of public importance – it is a new culture. People ought to understand that approaching these stands they can acquire new and important information. The community leader ought to be consistent in disseminating information, while the citizens should be demanding for information and periodical updates of the content of the stands,” – is believed in the FOICA.


By` "Aravot" daily

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