Court/Judicial body: Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Date: 15 June 2011 CRC
Provisions: Article 17: Access to appropriate information
Domestic provisions: Law on the rights of the child in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Article 44: protection of rights and interests of the child by the state bodies Law on mass media outlets, Article 18(2): provision of information by the state bodies on request Law on mass media outlets, Article 20: the right to search, request, obtain and disseminate information Anti Corruption Act, Article 12(7): unfounded denial of information
Background: The editor in chief of a newspaper requested information from the Department of Education of the city of Taldykorgan seeking data about the number of pending kindergarten applications, including the date on which they were filed. The Department denied the request on the grounds that such information could be provided only with the consent of the parents of the children concerned. The newspaper representatives filed a lawsuit alleging the wrongful denial of information. The lawsuit was dismissed by the courts of first, appellate and cassation instance and finally was considered by the Supreme Court in the exercise of its supervisory powers.
Issue and resolution: Freedom of information. Whether the State’s refusal to publish data about kindergarten enrolments was justified. The Court ruled that denial of such information was illegal and obliged the Department of Education to provide requested information.
Court reasoning: In reaching its decision, the Court considered Article 17 of the CRC, according to which States have the obligation to encourage the mass media to disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child. The Court observed that the information requested by the petitioners in the case was not of confidential character or a state secret. Furthermore, considering that the petitioners requested the information with the intention of exposing irregularities in the procedures for enrolling children in kindergarten, there was no conflict with the rights of the child. On the contrary, publishing the information would have the effect of promoting transparency. Consequently, the Court allowed the petitioners’ appeal.
Excerpt citing CRC and other relevant human rights
As translated by CRIN: “…the Court takes into account art. 17 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, according to which State Parties recognise the important function performed by mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health. To this end, States encourage the mass media to disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child.” In Russian language: “В этой связи коллегия принимает во внимание статью 17 Конвенции ООН о правах ребенка от 20 ноября 1989 года, согласно которой государства-участники признают важную роль средств массовой информации и обеспечивают, чтобы ребенок имел доступ к информации и материалам из различных национальных и международных источников, особенно к таким информации и материалам, которые направлены на содействие социальному, духовному и моральному благополучию, а также здоровому физическому и психическому развитию ребенка. С этой целью государства-участники поощряют средства массовой информации к распространению информации и материалов, полезных для ребенка в социальном и культурном отношениях.”
CRIN comments: CRIN believes this decision is consistent with the CRC. Provided that the children’s right to privacy in Article 16 CRC is respected, information concerning children and the fulfillment of their rights should be made available.
Citation: Постановление надзорной судебной коллегии по гражданским и административным делам Верховного суда Республики Казахстан № 3гп-297-11 от 15 июня 2011 года
Link to full judgement: http://www.adilsoz.kz/wp-content/uploads/judgment/2010.07.08/j-4.pdf