Transparency, global academic
R. GASTON GELOS, and SHANG-JIN
WEI. 2005. "Transparency and International Portfolio Holdings".
The Journal of Finance, 60 (6): 2987–3020, December 2005.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6261.2005.00823.x. [HTML]
Does country transparency affect international portfolio investment? We
examine this question by constructing new measures of transparency and
by making use of a unique microdata set on portfolio holdings of emerging
market funds around the world. We distinguish between government and corporate
transparency. There is clear evidence that funds systematically invest
less in less transparent countries. Moreover, funds have a greater propensity
to exit nontransparent countries during crises.
Lipsey, Roger. 2001.
"PwC's Opacity Index: A Powerful New Tool for Global Investors." Journal
of Corporate Accounting & Finance, 12: 35–44. doi: 10.1002/jcaf.1106.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers Opacity Index has created a stir among global
investors. For the first time, you can rate how “transparent” a country's
economy is—how easy it will be for a business venture to succeed, and what
each country's problem areas are. The author explains the details of this
powerful new tool, and how to use it. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons,
India, academic articles:
Peisakhin, Leonid, and Paul
Pinto, "Is transparency an effective anti-corruption strategy? Evidence
from a field experiment in India," Regulation & Governance,
4 (3): 261–280. Published
abstract online, September 201023 Sep 2010, DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-5991.2010.01081.x.
Abstract: Can freedom of information laws be harnessed by underprivileged
members of society and used to obtain greater access to basic public goods
that are otherwise attainable only through bribery? Drawing on a field
experiment on access to ration cards among New Delhi's slum dwellers, we
demonstrate that India's recently adopted freedom of information law is
almost as effective as bribery in helping the poor to secure access to
a basic public service. We find support for the theoretical proposition
that greater transparency and voice lowers corruption even in highly hierarchical
and unequal societies.
Roberts, Alasdair. 2010.
"A Great and Revolutionary Law? The First Four Years of India’s Right to
Information Act." Public Administration Review, 70 (6): 925–933,
November/December 2010 [PDF,
full article] Article first published online: 26 OCT 2010, DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6210.2010.02224.x.
Abstract: India’s 2005 Right to Information Act (RTIA) is among dozens
of national laws recently adopted similar to the U.S. Freedom of Information
Act. Drawing on several large studies examining the act’s implementation,
the author finds that Indian citizens filed about 2 million requests for
information under the RTIA during its first two and half years. However,
use of the law was constrained by uneven public awareness, poor public
planning, and bureaucratic indifference or outright hostility. Requirements
for proactive disclosure of information are often ignored. The necessary
mechanisms for enforcing the new law are also strained by a growing number
of complaints and appeals. Nonetheless, RTIA advocates demonstrate its
transformative potential and continue to press energetically for more effective
implementation. Public authorities and civil society organizations have
developed a number of practical innovations that may be useful for other
developing countries to adopt when considering similar laws.
sites, a new portal with reviews of, and links to, leading research
sites, from IPSA
China, academic report on
Horsley, Jamie P., The China
Law Center, Yale Law School. 2010. "Update
on China’s Open Government Information Regulations: Surprising Public Demand
Yielding Some Positive Results." 23 April 2010.
Chapter of academic anthology,
global developments of FOI, recently discovered:
Neuman, Laura, and Richard Calland.
the Law Work: The Challenges to Implementation,” in Florini, Anne,
ed., The Right to Know: Transparency for an Open World (New York:
Columbia U. Press), pp.182ff; also available
at Carter Center.
Report, from Canada, on use
of social media among UK MPs:
Social media in the UK Parliament
(tweets, podcasts, images shared on Flickr, YouTube videos, online committee
consultations with the public, and a popular game of "MP for a week") involve
issues such as parliamentary privilege and establishing identities when
facilitating informal electronic communications both among MPs and
between MPs and the public. The viewership of the website of the Prime
Minister numbered in the millions in just a two month period of early 2010.
Parliament 2020, a visioning project using focus groups, in conjunction
with the Hansard society, has made recommendations for social networking
in the future. Eichenberg,
Havi. 2010. Social Media, 5. Parliamentary Use in the United
Kingdom. Report, Social Affairs Division, Library of the Parliament
of Canada. [PDF]
New issue published, Open
This may be the final issue
of Open Government, whose funding from the Open
Society Institute (Soros.org) is running out (donations requested).
The peer-reviewed, online journal has bridged the gap between online news
and blogs on the one bank, and formal, peer reviewed academic journals
on the other. Founded in 2005 by Steve Wood and recently edited by
Marc-Aurèle Racicot, based in Quebec, it has with ten issues over
five years brought together writers and reviewers from multiple countries
around a common interest. See Editorial
[small PDF]; or whole issue, Open
Government Journal 6(1) (11 July 2010) [large PDF]
Canada, Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Canada
issued a judgment 17 June 2010, concluding that s. 2(b) of Canada's Charter
of Rights does not guarantee access to all documents in government hands,
but "only where access is necessary to permit meaningful discussion on
a matter of public importance, subject to privileges and functional constraints.”
The burden rests on the claimant to establish that the denial of access
effectively precludes meaningful commentary. (Section 2(b) of the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that everyone has the “freedom
of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press
and other media of communication”.) See Ontario (Public Safety
and Security) v. Criminal Lawyers’ Association, 2010 SCC 23, www.scc-csc.gc.ca.
Canada, annual FOI Audit:
National Freedom of Information Audit 2009-2010 [highlights, small pdf]
report, PDF] was released by the Canadian News Association in May.
Federal institutions performed worse than municipal; a few requests met
with demands for fees in the thousands of Canadian dollars; and requests
for electronic records (such as data in Excel spreadsheet format) [p. 40,
or p. 43/52 of PDF] were far more likely to be denied in part (53%) compared
to hardcopy documents (of which 48% were released in full). In some
cases, electronic data were released in static form as PDFs. Informal
release was also more common for hardcopy than for electronic data.
The improved, annual exercise, employing students systematically to make
simple ATI requests to agencies at all 3 levels of government, found poor
federal performance in disclosing information that should be publicly available
on request. "In fact, of 18 extensions of 30 days or longer, 12 were
claimed by federal institutions, and of the nine for 60 days or longer,
all but one was at the federal level. One of those ran to 190 days, about
six months." [Introduction, p.4 of PDF] Municipalities [p. 10] were
again the fastest responders, though those in New Brunswick are not yet
subject to the new information act.
Report, Information Commissioner
The Canadian Information Commissioner
reported critically in April 2010 on extensive delays in the access to
information system. The 2010 report card covered 24 institutions,
representing 88 percent of all access requests submitted in 2008–2009,
and including all institutions receiving at least five delay-related complaints.
(The threshhold is 30 days from receipt of request, and delays beyond this
are deemed refusals of information.) ). Strikingly, law enforcement
agencies were praised for their prompt processing. Citizenship and
Immigration Canada and Department of Justice Canada delivered materials
punctually, "due to senior management’s ongoing support for a compliance-prone
culture." The Canada Border Services Agency and Public Works and Government
Services Canada performed above the average, following a three year plan
of improvement. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police also substantially improved.
On the other hand, Foreign Affairs Canada was so far behind the curve that
they could not be rated by the report's criteria. The causes of
problems were found to be: primarily, leadership's commitment to ATI;
complex delegation orders within agencies; inter-institutional consultations
(where only the agency receiving the request is accountable for the ATI
processing; deficient resources for ATI processing; and sound records management.
Reports by the 241 federal institutions subject to the Access to Information
Act show that they received 34,041 requests in 2008–2009.[report, footnote
3] See Legault, Suzanne. Interim Information Commissioner of Canada.
of Time: 2008–2009 Report Cards on Systemic Issues Affecting Access to
Information in Canada. Government of Canada. April, 2010. [Executive
report in PDF]
Canada, blogger notes
special ATI report to Parliament 2010:
In a special report to Parliament
in April 2010, interim Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault, expressed
Canada, blogger notes
annual ATI report to Parliament 2009:
concern about the number
and length of time extensions on responding to ATI requests, noting that
interdepartmental consultations were becoming an important source of delay
and that institutions were employing tactics to try to stay within legislated
timeframes (including extensions). These include taking extra-long extensions
and asking requesters to narrow the scope of their requests, possibly excluding
important information. “The time needed to complete the consultation
in order to release the information to the requester then depends on the
efficiency and goodwill of the institution being consulted,” the report
said. “There are currently neither requirements nor incentives to quickly
process consultation requests, even where required by government policy.”
blog, Wednesday, April 14, 2010, "Information Commissioner Special Report
to Parliament on Access to Information."
Mr. Marleau, Canadian Federal
Information Commissioner, reported that six out of the 10 institutions
surveyed last year underperformed. They were the RCMP, Foreign Affairs,
National Defence, Public Works, Canada Border Services Agency and Health
Canada: "The most significant finding is that the 30-day timeline intended
by Parliament is becoming the exception instead of the norm. The institutions
reviewed this year process, on average, less than half of their requests
in 30 days ..." Michel-Adrien
Blog, Sunday, 1 March 2009. "2007-2008 Report Cards Criticize Federal Government
on Access to Information."
Ireland, Access to Information
in Local Government, survey results:
McDonagh, Maeve. 2010.
"Access to local government information in Ireland: Attitudes of decision
makers". See Open
Government Journal 6(1) (11 July 2010) [PDF]
Canada, Access to Information:
The ATI regime in Canada suffered
under a change of commissioner and the national security environment post
9/11, with the war in Afghanistan. It needs rebuilding. See
Brett, Matthew. 2010. "The Information War: Rebuilding Canada’s Access
to Information Act After Afghanistan." Open
Government Journal 6(1) (11 July 2010) [PDF]
Bangladesh, new Right to
Information Act, 2009:
In Bangladesh, where secrecy
had been based upon Section 5 (1) of the Official Secrets Act, 1923; Section
123 of the Evidence Act; Rule 19 of the Government Servants (Conduct) Rules,
1979; and Rule 28(1) of the Rules of Business 2009 -- there is now the
Right to Information Act, 2009. It had been drafted by the transitional
government, signed as an executive ordinance, and then ratified by the
next parliament. As usual, there is a list of positive obligations
for official publication, followed by a list of exemptions, though the
bill lacks a public interest balancing test. See Murad, Mohammad
Hasan. 2010. "Improving Transparency through Right to Information
and e-Governance: a Bangladesh Perspective." Open
Government Journal 6(1) (11 July 2010) [PDF]
Bangladesh, development of
Facilitated by the
spread of affordable wireless GPRS/EDGE internet cellphone service, the
Grammeenphone company has established Community Information Centers within
phone shops in many locations. These should be supplemented with
centres in schools and colleges, plus the spread of third generation
(3G) internet technology. Even the poor nation of Bangladesh can
and should implement e-Governance in (p. 16) "every level of government
to improve accountability, transparency, legitimacy, openness, and to bring
focus on citizens in the management of governance relationships and the
provision of services." See Murad, Mohammad Hasan. 2010.
"Improving Transparency through Right to Information and e-Governance:
a Bangladesh Perspective." Open
Government Journal 6(1) (11 July 2010) [PDF]
Minnesota, state government
issues of freedom of information:
Schmidt, Patrick, Zac Farber,
Hannah Johnson, and Robert Woo. 2010. "Sustaining Transparency?:
Journalists, Government Officials, and the Minnesota Data Practices Act."
Government Journal 6(1) (11 July 2010) [PDF]
Dumas, Graham Frederick, Comparative
Analysis of Russian and American Freedom of Information Legislation
(March 10, 2010). Via ITSRN. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1598469
Policy, World Bank:
Abstract: A brief
study [in Russian] of the new Russian freedom of information law (No. 8-FZ,
Feb. 9, 2009) through the lens of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
While the new Russian law addresses many prior concerns of information-freedom
advocates and creates a much more robust regime of access to information,
several problems remain. These are in part due to certain provisions in
the law, which are phrased rather broadly, as well as to the lack of institutional
independence that continues to plague the Russian judiciary, at least in
cases to which the government is a party. All-in-all, however, this law
presents a positive step forward for freedom of information in Russia.
McIntosh, "World Bank inaugurates new disclosure policy" and
names members to new "Access to Information Appeals Board." FreedomInfo.org,
2 July 2010.
Selected World Bank links: disclosure
policy | recent
documents list | historic
Draft legislation, Brazil:
The Brazilian House and one
of several Constitutional commissions of the Senate have passed an access
to information law, although it still lacks an appellate body; see Toby
McIntosh, "Brazil Advances Access Legislation," FreedomInfo.org, 28 June
Draft legislation, Sierra
The Sierra Leone Cabinet June
16 approved a draft Freedom of Information bill. See Toby
McIntosh, "Sierra Leone Cabinet Advances FOI Bill," FreedomInfo.org, 25
Draft policy, Asian Development
A first draft of a new Public
Communications Policy has been published by Asian Development Bank officials
-- and promptly criticized for its broad exemptions and lack of appellate
body. See Toby
McIntosh, "ADB Draft Transparency Policy Criticized," FreedomInfo.org 21
June 2010; and "ADB
Proposes Revisions to Public Communications Policy," 4 June 2010
Legislation fails, Philippines:
Legislation fails: For lack
of a quorum on 4 June 2010, the House of Representatives in the Philippines
was unable to pass a Freedom of Information Act. See FreedomInfo.org.
New complaints processing
system, Office of Information Commissioner, Canada:
The OIC Canada reported on its
own ATI processing, having determined causes of delays, and implemented
a new two-track system of processing that set up an intake unit (for triage)
to assign complaints to a simple track (for mediation and resolution) or
a complex track. The aim was to reduce a backlog of processing. A
strategic case management team cleared off, in four months, a third of
the 1,594 case backlog that had developed by April 2008. See Office
of the Information Commissioner, Canada. 2009. Annual
New jurisdiction and new
ombudsman to self-investigate OIC office, Canada:
The coming into force of the
Federal Accountability Act 2007 added a layer of complexity, just as the
fourth IC (Robert Marleau, the former clerk of the House of Commons) took
office. Under this new law, about 70 additional institutions -- including
the OIC itself -- became subject to the Access to Information Act. Complaints
thereby increased by 80%, necessitating a reorginization of the OIC's processes.
A retired Supreme Court Justice was hired as an independent ad hoc commissioner,
to handle any complaints against the OIC itself. Office of the Information
Commissioner, Canada. 2008. Annual
Academic journal article,
Gill, J. & Hughes, S. (2005).
Bureaucratic Compliance with Mexico's New Access to Information Law. Critical
Studies in Media Communication, 22(2), 121-137. doi:10.1080/07393180500072038
Australian Law Reform Commission,
Abstract: We analyze government
document custodians' attitudes and behaviors in order to assess the prospects
of a new access to information law establishing a citizen's right-to-know
in Mexico. The Mexican law is considered one of the best in the hemisphere
in terms of broad access and workable enforcement provisions. However,
no extra resources were allotted to government agencies for compliance
with the law; the country's traditional bureaucratic incentive structures
support closure rather than access; and bureaucrats' views on the uses
of government information prior to democratization suggest an instrumental
approach guided organizational incentives rather than generalized support
for either secrecy or access as a principle. We argue that missing or unclear
political will at the top is the strongest challenge to Mexico's emerging
right to know.
"Secrecy Laws and Open Government
in Australia", Report 112 [Index]
3.2 MB] -- or select chapters; html version also available. Argues
both for penal sanctions for unauthorized disclosures and protection for
National Committee on U.S.-China
Relations' "Rule of Law/International Transparency Conference," Shanghai,
China, December 11-13, 2009
Academic journal article,
Deirdre and Albert Jacob Meijer. 2006. "Does transparency strengthen
legitimacy?" Information Polity: The International Journal of
Government & Democracy in the Information Age, 11 (2): 109-122.
Abstract: Does enhanced transparency,
through the Internet, boost the legitimacy of the EU? In this paper we
present a critical perspective on the assumptions underlying the relation
between transparency and legitimacy. We reconstruct three assumptions from
EU policy documents – transparency strengthens input legitimacy, output
legitimacy and social legitimacy – and then highlight several weaknesses.
We conclude that transparency is a key element of democratic institutions
but naïve assumptions about the relation between transparency and
legitimacy can and should be avoided. We warn against a simplified trust
in the benefits of the Internet: enhancing legitimacy is much more complicated
than creating fancy websites.
Conference panel, Switzerland:
on 7-9 April 2010, at the conference
at the University of Berne, Switzerland, of The International Research
Society for Public Management (IRSPM) there will be a panel track on transparency.
See www.irspm2010.com and scroll
to Panel track 31: Transparency and Accountability, featuring Martial Pasquier
(IDHEAP Lausanne, Switzerland), Daniel Caron (ENAP, Canada), Jean-Patrick
Villeneuve (IDHEAP Lausanne, Switzerland), Andreas Kellerhals, (Swiss Federal
Government, Switzerland), and Suzanne J. Piotrowski, (Rutgers University,
"Transparency and accountability
were offered by the Obama administration as ways to deal with the current
crisis. Now that his administration appears to back track on some of these
proposals, can these elements be qualified as mere administrative make-up?
This panel wishes to discuss the use and limits of transparency and accountability
tools and frameworks in public organisations." Panel
Academic journal article,
Jonathan Fox, Carlos García
Jiménez and Libby Haight, “Rural Democratization in Mexico’s Deep
South: Grassroots Right-to-Know Campaigns in Guerrero,” Journal of Peasant
Studies, 36(2), 2009. [671K,
PDF] Generally, the authors conclude that some grassroots movements
had difficulty conceptualizing the value of using information laws to obtain
data so as to apply pressure to state governments. When they did,
they were more effective.
Academic book chapter, Mexico:
Jonathan Fox, “Transparencia
y rendición de cuentas,” (“Transparency and Accountability”) in
John Ackerman, ed.,
Más Allá del Acceso a la Información:
Transparencia, Rendición de Cuentas y Estado de Derecho, Mexico:
Siglo XXI/Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, UNAM/CETA, 2008
Book, Latin America:
Book surveying all 11 new Latin
American legal regimes on the right to information, published by UNESCO:
The Right to Information in Latin America: A Comparative
Legal Survey (UNESCO, 2009) [PDF]
Interest group report, India:
Summary of the People's review of the Indian Right to Information regime,
2008 [PDF] by the RTI Assessment & Analysis Group (RaaG) and the
National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) is posted.
Academic report, Latin America:
Greg Michener examined media
coverage in the 12 months before passage of 2008 FOI laws in three Latin
American countries, finding that media coverage was strongly correlated
with stronger provisions in the new law. Whereas in Uruguay there
was little media coverage of the campaign for FOI led by GAIP, and weaker
provisions in the resultant law; there was much more active coverage in
FOI campaigns in Chile and Guatemala and stronger provisions in the law.
The implication for Brazil, where the current campaign receives even less
coverage, is not encouraging. See Greg
Michener, "Freedom of Information Legislation and the Media in Latin America,"
Freedominfo.org, 19 May '09. His
graph of media coverage is found here.
Thursday, Nov 5, 2009, Dublin,
4th Annual Data Protection
Practical Compliance Conference. Ireland's largest Data Protection
Conference brings together information and compliance professionals to
discuss data protection issues faced by Irish Organisations.
Oct 15 – 16 2009, George Town
/ Penang, Malaysia.
for FoI Legislation in Malaysia. Transparency International
Malaysia & Konrad Adenauer Stiftung sponsor this conference, to raise
the profile of the issue and push for FoI legislation.
Jul 13 – 17 2009: 2nd
Africa Chapter Conference: Towards Opening Access to Information &
Knowledge in the Agricultural Sciences and Technology in Africa. Accra,
Ghana. Tthe International Association of Agricultural Information
Specialists – Africa Chapter (IAALD) hosts this event for material from
public research institutes and academic institutions in Africa.
Jun 29 – 30 2009, Westminster
Business School, University of Westminster, London, UK. 9th
European Conference on e-Government.
Interest group recognition,
Jun 10 – 12 2009, University
of Alberta, Canada.
Access and Privacy Conference: The Pursuit of Truth. Truth corresponds
to activities for managing information with integrity and accurately, finding
and facilitating access to records by requestors, and sharing teaching,
transparency, and continuous improvement of internal information management
May 17 – 19 2009, Puebla, Mexico.
International Digital Government Research Conference: "Social Networks:
Making Connections between Citizens, Data & Government"? Policy
implications of open government and innovative applications of Web 2.0,
the social web.
May 15 – 17 2009, Calgary, Alberta,
Canada. Rights, Responsibilities, Trust: Archives and Public Affairs
of Canadian Archivists Annual Conference 2009 will examine the
changing public perception of archives and the consequent transformation
of archival operations. Themes: changing public policies about information
and evidence, mounting concern for human rights and social responsibilities,
increasing awareness of the importance of archives in current affairs,
and the role of archives in sustaining a civil society.
"Jimmy Carter Presses for Greater
Access to Information in the Americas: Sao Paulo Gives Jimmy Carter Highest
Award in Recognition of Human Rights. Former US President Jimmy Carter
publicly pressed for widespread support for Brazil's pending transparency
law last week. The government has pledged to pass an access to information
law this year, as reported previously by freedominfo. On Sunday, May 3rd,
Carter was given the Ordenm do Ipiranga Award by Sao Paulo Governor
Jose Serra, recognizing Carter's work on human rights and democracy promotion
in the region. The next day, Carter visited with Brazilian President Luis
Inacio Lula da Silva, as part of a South American tour promoting transparency
and open government in the region." -- FreedomInfo.org,
newsletter, 8 May 2009.
May 4 – Jun 12, 2009, conducted
Development Program for Parliamentary Staff: Module 3 Parliamentary
Committees. The World Bank Institute’s Parliamentary Strengthening
Program and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association offer a 14- module
web-based professional development program for parliamentary staff. 32
hours of training, over 5 weeks. Topics covered will include some limited
material on Transparency, Participation and Outreach.
May 4, 2009 - Highlights
from the Right of Access to Information Conference in Lima, Peru, By
Laura Neuman, associate director of the Carter Center's Americas Program
and the access to information project manager.
"The Americas Regional Conference on the Right of Access to Information
held in Lima, Peru, ended on Thursday, April 30, with final plenary sessions
considering the conference Findings and Plan of Action. The conference,
held under the auspices of The Carter Center in collaboration with the
Organization of American States, the Andean Juridical Committee, and the
Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, was a follow-up to the International
Conference on Public Information held last year at the Center in Atlanta.
The goal of the Americas Regional conference was to contextualize the findings
from the global conference and to advance the right of access to information
in the region. [...] 110 participants from 18 countries in the Americas
representing governments, civil society organizations, regional and international
bodies and financial institutions, donor agencies and foundations, the
private sector, media, and scholars.
Beginning Tuesday April 28, conference attendees were invited to
attend a World Bank consultation on their draft disclosure policy.
Close to 50 of our participants attended and provided important inputs,
which will be shared with World Bank officials in Washington, including
President Zoellick. That afternoon, we held the first plenary sessions
with an opening by Santiago Canton, executive secretary of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights and Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, World Bank director
for Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela. [...] The rest of Tuesday
was comprised of panels on the impact of transparency, whether transparency
and the right of access to information is a "luxury" in the face of regional
crises, and four illuminating case studies.
Throughout Wednesday, April 29, experts and regional leaders spent the
day in small working groups exploring the incentives and costs for passing,
implementing, and enforcing an access to information law; the necessary
environment – such as an independent judiciary, strong institutions, and
capacitated media - for the right to information to thrive; how to extend
the notion of transparency to the development banks such as the World Bank
and to the private sector; strategies for increasing the demand for the
right to information; and whether the Americas needs a regional treaty.
The conclusions of these working groups served as the basis for the conference
findings and plan of action. [...]
On Thursday, April 30, we returned to meet as a group for report backs
from the working groups and, under President Carter's leadership, to debate
the draft conference findings and plan of action. In the afternoon,
we heard from the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur for
Freedom of Expression Catalina Botero and Vice-President of the Inter-American
Court for Human Rights Diego Garcia-Sayan.
At the conclusion of the conference, participants reiterated that the right
of access to information is a fundamental human right and necessary to
fight corruption, improve development and good governance, and to exercise
other essential rights. The conference further found that secrecy
has been a major contributing factor to crises – security, financial, environmental
– in our region and that the major challenges facing the Americas are a
lack of implementation and enforcement, backsliding in the right of access
to information, and an absence of widespread demand. Participants
will be submitting additional comments for the draft documents, with the
final version of the Americas Regional Findings and Plan of Action completed
and issued in the coming two weeks."
10 Feb. – 30 Sep. 2009, Fahamu
Networks for Social Justice offers a distance
learning course on understanding access to information and how to
campaign effectively, drawing on experiences in Africa.
announcments, Europe, Chile:
of Europe adopts weak access to information convention," FreedomInfo.org,
19 Dec. 2008
Government Journal | Volume
4 (2008); Issue 1 (April)
Report on Mexico:
of Europe committee puts off decision on draft access to information convention,
permits more time for input and improvements," FreedomInfo.org, 7 Nov.
Council of Europe's Interim
Report on Access to Official Documents (2006), Extract 2007
Chile Becomes Latest
Latin American Nation to Enact FOIA Law -- see freedominfo.org
Update, August 13, 2008
Called the "Ley sobre Transparencia
de la Función Pública y Acceso a la Información de
los Órganos de la Administración del Estado" (Law on Transparency
of Public Functions and Access to Information of the Agencies of State),
the legislation was signed by President Michelle Bachelet on August 11.
The signing of the law culminates a major campaign by Chilean freedom of
information groups such as Pro-Acceso and Chile Transparente to bring about
transparency in governance in Chile. The right-to-know movement received
a major boost in October 2006, when the Inter-American Court ruled in a
case, Claude Reyes and Others v. Chile, that the Chilean government had
improperly withheld information from environmental groups on a deforestation
project known as Rio Condor. The Court ordered the Chilean government to
adopt legal measures "to guarantee the effectiveness of an adequate administrative
process for dealing with requests for information, which sets deadlines
for providing the information."
The new law signed by President Bachelet gives government agencies 20 days
to respond to petitions for information; it also orders agencies to create
permanent government Web sites and postings to facilitate public access
to official records. The law establishes a unique "Council for Transparency"
to oversee and arbitrate the release of government documentation. President
Bachelet now has 60 days to name the four members of the council.
Center issues Declaration on Transparency, 5 Aug. '08, in Atlanta --
" The Atlanta Declaration
and Plan of Action, serving as a framework for advancing this human right,
finds that access to information is fundamental to dignity, equity and
peace with justice, and that a lack of access to information disproportionately
affects the poor, women and other vulnerable and marginalized societies.
The Declaration calls on all states and intergovernmental organizations
to enact legislation and instruments for the exercise, full implementation
and effective enforcement of this right. It further encourages all stakeholders
to take concrete steps to establish, develop, protect and promote the right
of access to information."
Armajani, "The Risks and Rewards of Transparency", Governing Magazine,
Center's "International Conference on the Right to Public Information,"
Atlanta, February 26-29, 2008.
Carter Center documents:
The Carter Center's
Americas Program has an Access
to Information Project, which originated in Jamaica and has spread
to a few other countries in the region.
Court opinion, Japan:
Recently discovered: Summaries
of Transparency for Growth Conference, Carter Center, 5 May 1999
Tokyo District Court ruled last
month that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs violated Japan's information
disclosure law by failing to respond in a timely manner to a request to
release documents on the Japan-Korea Normalization Pact. This sets a major
precedent. January 30, 2008 - Freedominfo.org
Commissioners Hold 5th International Conference in New Zealand, 12
Dec. 2007, from FreedomInfo.org
Right to Know Day 2006: Celebrating Freedom of Information Around the
World, 28 Sep. 2006, from FreedomInfo.org
68 Countries Now Have Access
Laws: "Freedom of Information Around the World 2006: A Global Survey of
Access to Government Records Laws," by David Banisar [PDF
- 1 MB] [Word
- 1.3 MB], 4 JULY 2006
New legislation, Canada:
The new Conservative government
of Canada introduced (April 2006, bill C-2) and then enacted (2006) a Federal
Accountability law. This added 70 government-related organizations
to the ATI Act, offered protection for whistleblowers, created an ombudsman
for the budget, and an ethics commissioner -- but also allegedly weakened
enforcement provisions of the ATI Act. See Michel-Adrien,
LibraryBoy blog, 11 April 2006.
The Right to Know movement
(2002-) and the Right to Know Day:
Society Justice Initiative of Soros.org, facilitated forming the Right
to Know Day celebrations in 2003. The ‘Right to Know’ Day was created in
2002 in Sofia, Bulgaria at an international meeting of access to information
advocates, who proposed that 28 September be adopted globally for celebrating
access to information. Within a few years, participating countries and
NGOs had increased from 40 to over 60. (The participating Canadian site
is Right to
Know, Canada. US celebrations have for many years instead been focussed
on James Madison's birthday in the spring.) The ten core principles are:
to information is a right of everyone
is the rule—secrecy is the exception
right applies to all public bodies
requests should be simple, speedy, and free
have a duty to assist requesters
must be justified
public interest takes precedence over secrecy
has the right to appeal an adverse decision
bodies should pro-actively publish core information
right should be guaranteed by an independent body