More than 115 countries worldwide have laws that require officials to turn over public records. Of course, even in countries that have no laws it never hurts to ask. But there’s an advantage to using an access law — variously called freedom of information laws, access to information laws, right to information, and right to know laws.
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There are many resources for journalists seeking to file records requests in countries with laws governing access to information. To help exploit these legal tools, we’ve lined up GIJN’s Complete Global Guide to Freedom of Information, a resource with three sections:
- Tips and Tricks: A collection of the best advice on how to use access laws.
- Inspirational FOI: Ideas of what to ask for and stories about journalists active in using FOI.
- Global Resources: Country-by-country guidance and links to national resources.
- Guide to Whether Foreigners Can Use National FOI Laws: A country-by-country chart.
This guide was put together by Toby McIntosh, the director of GIJN’s resource center and the former editor of FreedomInfo.org, a nonprofit website based in Washington, DC that covers international transparency laws. He was with Bloomberg BNA for 39 years and has filed numerous US FOI requests and has written about FOI policies worldwide. He is also a steering committee member of FOIANet, an international network of FOI advocates.