Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

The RA Constitutional Court does not protect the right to information

June 5, 2023

Activities | Law Enforcement Practice Analysis | Publications | State Institutions

On 18 January 2021, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor applied to the RA Minister of Defense, requesting to provide information about the total number of women employed in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia and Armed Forces of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Ministry of Defense refused to provide information, reasoning that it is a state and service secret, invoking a few Articles of the RA Law on State and Service Secret. HCAV appealed the MoD rejection in court, first filing the appeal with the RA Administrative Court, then RA Appeal Court, and Cassation Court. HCAV substantiated the appeal by stating that the requested information was not state or service secret subject to protection for security reasons of a democratic state, and that provision of that information did not harm state security, and MoD’s refusal to provide that information was unlawful. 

 

In its judgment of 30 June 2021, the Administrative Court rejected the Organization’s claim. HCAV appealed the Administrative Court’s judgment in the Administrative Court of Appeals. Examining the appeal, the Appeal Court recorded that the information requested by HCAV contained information about the total number of female employees in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Artsakh, and providing that information implied declassification of information comprised of state and service secret, which is sufficient for the information holder to refuse to provide that information. On 30 June 2022, the Appeal Court decided to reject the Organization’s appeal.

 

The Organization appealed the judgment of the Appeal Court in the Cassation Court.

 

Examining the appeal, on 10.11.2022, the Court of Cassation  decided to refuse to take up the appeal, arguing that there was no need to develop the above-mentioned legal norms, and that the Organization’s arguments regarding violation of substantive and procedural rights by the Appeal Court are refuted by the arguments and conclusions of the Appeal Court. 

 

On 10 April 2023, HCAV filed an individual application with the RA Constitutional Court. On 16 May 2023, by its PDCC-45 procedural decision, the RA Constitutional Court refused to examine the case related to the Organization’s application.  

 

We find it necessary to record that HCAV does not agree with the arguments noted in the decision of the Constitutional Court, and will continue making efforts to overcome the norms restricting the right to freedom of information, and the conduct of information holders.

 

Click to read the report on “Problems concerning the freedom of information in the RA”.

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