Access to Information in Azerbaijan
2005 Law on Right to Obtain Information
In 2005 Azerbaijan adopted an "ambitious information access Law", according to Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) - The Law of the Right to Obtain Information. This law was to allow citizens to request and receive information from any public instutition. However a monitoring report by RWI and the Open Society Institute (OSI) found that the reality of access to information fell short of the ideal. According to the research carried out, Azerbaijani officials were in poor compliance with the 2005 law - over half of the inquiries made were ignored, while the 65 inquiries that received responses included 16 refusals of information and 3 incomplete answers. Few oil companies responded to the request.
Organisation 'Article 19' also found that there were inadequate mechanisms to facilitate information requests from the public, and no dedicated public information offices in Ministries. In addition, their report found an entrenched culture of secrecy withing Azerbaijani government institutions and a lack of awareness of the right to information among the public.
In July 2012 President Aliyev signed into law an amendment limiting disclosures by corporate entities, which was adopted by Parliament on the 12 July. The amendments restrict disclosure of information about the ownership of commercial entities, the amount of their charter capital, ownership structure, and other data.
These amendments to the laws “On the right to obtain information”, “On commercial secrets” and “On state registration and state registry of legal entities” were condemned by civil society, and the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IFRS) believes that the government was pressured to make these changes because of recent investigative work done by independent journalists, some of which had targeted large companies and enterprises owned by family members of high-ranking state officials.
Revenue Watch/OSI report 2009: Monitoring of the disclosures of access to public information in the Republic of Azerbaijan
- “Monitoring of the Disclosures and Access to Public Information in Azerbaijan” Revenue Watch Institute, 13 July 2009.
- “ARTICLE 19 LAUNCHES REPORT ON THE RIGHT TO ACCESS TO INFORMATION IN AZERBAIJAN” Article 19, 3 November 2009.
- “Azerbaijan President Signs Law on Corporate Disclosure” Article 19, 20 July 2012.
- “Proposed bill to restrict access to information”, IFEX, 4 June 2012.