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.
শুরু চার পৃষ্ঠার এক পরীক্ষামূলক উদ্যোগ দিয়ে, যেন সদ্য লেখাপড়া শিখতে থাকা নারীরা সঠিক তথ্য পেতে পারেন। সেই উদ্যোগই একসময় রূপ নিল সংবাদপত্রে, যা কিনা নারীদের সাথে অসদাচরণ থেকে শুরু করে স্থানীয় সরকারের ত্রুটি পর্যন্ত সব কিছু উন্মোচন করতে লাগলো একে একে। খবর লহরিয়া নামের সেই পত্রিকার নাম, রাতারাতি ছড়িয়ে পড়লো জাতীয় পর্যায়ে।
Khabar Lahariya started as a four-page experiment to educate women who were learning to read and write but has now grown into a full-blown newspaper that exposes corruption and society’s injustices. Staffed with women from rural India, the newspaper is shaking a deeply entrenched system of neglect in the small villages of India.
Investigative journalist Taha Siddiqui, who was forced to flee to France recently after a failed abduction attempt, talks about why he left Islamabad and his SAFE Newsrooms initiative which aims to highlight freedom of expression issues in newsrooms across South Asia.
Last year Pramod Acharya traveled to Sindhupalchok in the land-locked nation of Nepal to follow up on the region’s recovery from the devastating earthquake of 2015. That’s when he stumbled across a human trafficking ring. He wrote up what he learned about covering human trafficking in South Asia — along with some tips — for GIJN.
Journalist Gangadhar Patil’s impressive idea of supporting independent journalists, helping with their edits and then matching them with mainstream publications has taken off in India — and landed its journalists in publications like CNN International, The Asia Times and The New Indian Express.
Oman’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression, but with strong limitations. The 1984 Press and Publications law further outlines the restrictions on journalism and journalists in the country and explicitly prohibits defamation of the ruling family. It is common practice for journalists to self-censor to avoid threats, fines and arrest. Journalists and media outlets are required to obtain permits, which can be revoked for violating press laws. Foreign journalists must also obtain a license from the Publications and Publishing Department. Meanwhile, the Telecommunications Act of 2002 adds additional restrictions to online media.
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.
While legal notices can result in civil or criminal defamation cases, journalists in India say companies are using them as part of a tactic known as Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP, in an effort to intimidate or censor them. Indian journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta spoke to Aayush Soni about the increasingly popular intimidation tactic.
Filing right to information requests can be a very frustrating process, but the reward can be a valuable exclusive article. Here are four examples from India, Northern Ireland and the U.S., in which journalists successfully developed stories using national freedom of information and right to information laws.