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Draft treaty on access to information flawed, says ARTICLE 19

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is an ARTICLE 19 press release:

Council of Europe Draft Convention Fails to Ensure Adequate Protection of Right to Information - Civil Society Groups Call for Urgent Action

The world's first generalised treaty on access to information, currently being drafted by the Council of Europe, risks falling below prevailing European standards according to civil society groups from across Europe. The treaty, which will become the "European Convention on Access to Official Documents", is being drafted by a Group of Specialists, chosen by 15 of the 47 governments that are members of the Council of Europe. The Group of Specialists is mandated to finish its work by the end of 2007, but has just one more drafting session scheduled for 9-12 October in Strasbourg.

As Right To Know Day (Sept. 28) draws near, three organisations with observer status on the Group - ARTICLE 19, Access Info Europe and the Open Society Justice Initiative - are urgently calling on interested civil society organisations and individuals to sign an open letter to the Council of Europe, calling for the shortcomings in the draft treaty to be addressed.

Major flaws in the draft treaty include the following:
1. Failure to include all official documents held by legislative bodies and judicial authorities within the mandatory scope of the treaty;
2. Failure to include official documents held by natural and legal persons insofar as they perform public functions within the mandatory scope of the treaty;
3. Failure to specify certain basic categories of official documents, such as those containing financial or procurement information that must be published proactively.

To date, over 140 leading organisations and over 100 individuals have signed the letter at: http://www.access-info.org/

The text of the draft Convention can be found in Appendix III at:
http://www.coe.int/t/e/human_rights/cddh/3._committees/05.%20access%20to%20official%20information%20(dh-s-ac)/04.%20meeting%20reports/15th.asp

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