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Monitoring of the Disclosures and Access to Public Information in Azerbaijan

  • Briefing

  • 13 July 2009

In 2005, Azerbaijan adopted an ambitious information access law, allowing citizens to request and receive information from any public institution. A new report released by the Revenue Watch Institute and the Open Society Institute-Assistance Foundation Azerbaijan assesses how well the intentions of this law were carried out in 2007 and 2008, and finds that the reality of information access in Azerbaijan falls far short of the ideal.

A group of transparency experts and lawyers conducted a survey of the accessibility of public finance information, acting as journalists, citizens and nonprofit organizations. They made 355 information inquiries to 69 information holders at ministries and agencies that manage public finance, as well as a number of oil companies operating in the country. The report, "Monitoring of the Disclosures of and Access to Public Information in the Republic of Azerbaijan," tabulates the answers according to the relevance of the replies given, the agencies' and companies' treatment of the inquirers and the timeliness of the responses.

According to these findings, Azeri officials are in poor compliance with the 2005 law. Over half of the inquiries were ignored, while the 65 inquiries that received responses included 16 refusals of information and 3 incomplete answers. Additionally, only 40 of the 169 inquiries were answered within the time frame stipulated by law. In a comparative analysis, the authors of the report found that state agencies in Azerbaijan had improved little between 2007 and 2008 in their attitude towards complying with information access laws, and that few oil companies had bothered to respond to inquiries at all.