New Law to Give Public Greater Access to Government Information

ASTANA – President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the law “On access to information” on Nov. 16, the press service of the Akorda reported.

The document is aimed at the implementation of the 100-step Plan of the Nation that is the vehicle for enacting the country’s five institutional reforms programme and ensuring constitutional rights of citizens to freely receive and disseminate information by any means not prohibited by law.

The new law opens much of the information held by the state bodies to public. The law requires that open information will make up 70 percent of all information held by state bodies. State secrets will approximately amount to 10 percent and information for official use only will amount to 20 percent.

According to Deputy of the Mazhilis (lower chamber of Parliament) Maulen Ashimbayev, previously the volume of open information held by state bodies was about 40 percent; state secrets and other secrets amounted to 20 percent and information for official use only amounted to 40 percent, Zakon.kz reported Nov. 18.

The law reduces terms of providing information for individuals and legal entities. In particular, the state bodies now have to respond to requests within 20 days instead of 30.

Also, it expands the list of information that cannot be restricted, for example, data on violations of human rights and freedoms or facts on committed terrorist acts.

According to the law, heads of central executive state bodies (except for the Ministry of Defence), the chair of the Agency for Civil Service and Anti-corruption, akims (governors) and heads of national institutions of higher education must report to the public on completed work at least once a year. The procedure of such events will be determined by the legislation of Kazakhstan.

The law provides access to meetings of state bodies’ collegiums in accordance with the legislation and online broadcasting on the internet of public sessions of Parliament, including collegiums held on the results of the year.

The law also provides liability for the unlawful restriction of the right to access to information.

“The new law has a high level. For the first time, the interaction between the state bodies and their representatives with the public and citizens on many sensitive and important issues, touching on constitutional rights and public interests, is established and regulated,” said Professor Nurlan Abdirov, chairman of the Legal Council of the Nur Otan party, one of the developers of the law.