22 June 2011

Parliament passes right to information law

After a five-year debate, Mongolia's Parliament passed a freedom of information law last week, joining nearly 90 other countries that provide legal protection for the right to information, report Globe International and other IFEX members.

In recent years, Globe has documented numerous cases of journalists who have struggled to provide the public with accurate and in-depth information as they battled a lack of transparency and limited access to information.

Under the law, which will come into effect on 1 December, Globe says any citizen or legal body has the right to seek information from government institutions and authorities about their activities, human resources, budget, finance and procurement of goods and services with state funds.

"This a great result of efforts by Globe International, Open Society Forum and other NGOs who worked with us in advocacy and lobbying," said Globe. "We would like to express our deepest gratitude to our partners and donors who supported us… We believe that the new law will help us to consolidate democracy, freedom of expression and human rights in Mongolia."

The law comes at a time when Mongolians are demanding detailed information over the tender selection process of development of the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine in southern Mongolia, reports the Chinese news agency Xinhua. Under the new law, those operating with government funds also have an obligation to reveal information to the public.

According to Freedom House, Parliament passed the law on the same day that U.S. President Barack Obama met with Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj to discuss cooperative efforts.

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