Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Press Release: Turkey enacts freedom of information law

On 09 October, 2003, the Turkish government enacted the Right to
Information Law (Law No: 4982). It was initially prepared by the Ministry
of Justice and was introduced to the Parliament on 25 June, 2003. An
important Parliamentary report by the EU Compatibility Commission of the
Turkish Parliament was published on 16 July, 2003. Another report on the
draft bill by the Justice Commission of the Turkish Parliament was also
published on 24 July 2003.

237 Turkish MPs out of a total of 550 were present for the final voting on
the Right to Information Bill and all of the present MPs (including from
the opposition) voted for the Bill to become law.

The new law itself does not say anything on implementation and there will
be further regulations published within the next six months clarifying
issues related to implementation. The regulations will be prepared by the
Prime Ministry and will be put into force by the Council of Ministers. This
law will come into force six months after the date of its publication.

Following the enactment of the new law in Turkey, a Right to Information
Assessment (Review) Council will be established to deal with appeals on
rejected FOI requests.

The information and documents pertaining the state secrets, the economical
interests of the state, the state intelligence, the administrative
investigation, and the judicial investigation and prosecution are out of
the scope of this law. Limitations also apply for the privacy of the
individuals, privacy of communications, trade secrets, intellectual
property (works of art and science), institutions' internal regulations,
and institutions' internal opinions, information notes and recommendations.

"Although it is a very important first step towards openness and
transparency the limits of this new right are not clearly defined by the
new law. The meaning of "secrecy" will be clarified by means of a separate
legislation on "secrecy" that is currently being drafted by the Ministry of
Justice. So it remains to be seen how transparent the government will be in
Turkey" said Dr. Yaman Akdeniz.

For further information please contact Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, Lecturer in
CyberLaw, University of Leeds, United Kingdom. Director, Cyber-Rights &
Cyber-Liberties (UK), and a 2003 Fellow of the International Policy and
Information Policy Fellowship programmes of the Open Society Institute.
Email: lawya@cyber-rights.org Tel: +44 7798 865116

Dr. Yaman Akdeniz
Lecturer in CyberLaw, Department of Law,
University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom

2003 Fellow of the International Policy and Information Policy
Fellowship programmes of the Open Society Institute.

Tel: +44 (0)113 3435011 Fax: +44 (0)113 3435056
E-mail: lawya@leeds.ac.uk/ lawya@cyber-rights.org/

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