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. 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.
OCCRP Data, part of the Investigative Dashboard, offers journalists a shortcut to the deep web. It now has over 170 public sources and more than 100 million leads for public search – news archives, court documents, leaks and grey literature encompassing UK parliamentary inquiries, companies and procurement databases, NGO reports and even CIA rendition flights, among other choice reading.
A study by Iraqi professor Dr Bushra Al-Hamdani found that journalists in Iraq are often targeted by either pro-government militias or militant opposition groups and have little protection against threats. They also face legal obstacles and a lack of government transparency.
More than 115 countries worldwide have laws that require officials to turn over public records. Variously called freedom of information, access to information, right to information and right to know laws, they all can help journalists access public records. We’ve lined up GIJN’s Complete Global Guide to Freedom of Information to help you navigate the terrain.
This is part one of our three part series: GIJN’s Global Guide to Freedom of Information. FOI Tips and Tricks offers a round up of expert advice from around the world.
Nobody pretends that it’s easy or always productive to exercise the right to information. But the return on investment can be very positive. To help make the challenge less daunting, some of those who have climbed the FOI mountain have left maps of their journeys. Because national laws vary in detail, giving generic advice on FOI is a bit tricky.
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.
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.
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.
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.