Unlocking Laws to Set Information Free: GIJN’s Global Guide to FOI and RTI

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Unlocking laws to set information free

More than 115 countries worldwide have laws that require officials to turn over public records. Of course, even in the 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.

COVID-19 Update:

Tips on Making FOIA Requests About COVID-19 A GIJN guide on using freedom of information (FOI) laws to understand the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mountains of vital stories about the coronavirus are hidden in public records. Here’s how to FOIA for them  Story ideas from Poynter with the help of BuzzFeed investigative reporter Jason Leopold and MuckRock founder Michael Morisy.

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:


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.