FOI Requests in 11 Countries: Implementation Is Key

With freedom of information statutes in over 100 countries today, the laws have become a key tool for journalists from India to Mexico. But their success depends on how they’re used and implemented, as Swiss scholar Vincent Mabillard explores in his recent paper, Freedom of Information Laws: Evolution of the Number of Requests in 11 Jurisdictions. We are pleased to present highlights from his paper from the University of Lausanne.

A Media Resource Center for the Rio Olympics

On Thursday, June 30, a group of journalists met at a house in Botafogo in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro for a full day of training in the city’s access to information laws, followed by a debate on transparency in the context of the upcoming Olympics. “We wanted to do something before the Olympics on access to information, because so many people don’t know how the system works,” explained Mariana Simões, manager of Casa Pública.

UN’s New Global Goal: Ensuring Public Access to Info

On September 25, world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a United Nations summit. The new goals commit all 193 UN member states to an ambitious development agenda that calls for poverty eradication, environmental protection, gender equality, disease prevention, universal schooling, ‘inclusive’ growth, and good governance – and includes, for the first time a commitment to public access to information. This new commitment has potentially transformative implications for the free flow of information and independent media development worldwide.

What If We Disclose Everything?

From my experience of more than eight years managing transactions and capacity building programs in Latin America and Africa, a radical approach to transparency is the key to enable public-private partnerships to deliver more and better infrastructure services. The crude truth is that opaque policies serve a lot of interests, but almost none of them benefit service users or taxpayers.

World Hits 100 Freedom of Info Laws, but Challenges Abound

The civil society movement campaigning for government openness reached a significant landmark yesterday with the Latin American country of Paraguay enacting the world’s 100th access to information law. Twenty years ago, in 1994, there were just 15 access to information laws globally. But “there are still many challenges ahead,” says Helen Darbishire of Access Info Europe. “The quality of access to information laws varies enormously. There is insufficient transparency in practice and we urgently need more comparative data on how these laws are working.”

On the Trail: How To Request Information from Authorities

Power sets barriers and the reporter pushes back against them—it’s an unwritten rule on which Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez believed all journalistic work is based. Some governments, however, have begun to voluntarily lower these barriers by approving legislation designed to make information more accessible to their citizens. To date, approximately 90 countries globally have freedom of information laws, which establish rules and deadlines for facilitating the collection of data.