International Right to Know Day 2006

28 September 2006

International Right to Know Day was established to mark the founding on 28 September 2002 of the global Freedom of Information Advocates Network. The 4th International Right to Know Day is being celebrated in 2006. The aim of Right to Know Day is to raise awareness of every individual’s right of access to government-held information: the right to know how elected officials are exercising power and how taxpayers’ money is being spent. Freedom of information advocates have used the day to share ideas, strategies and success stories about the development of freedom of information laws and the goals of open government.

Celebrating Freedom of Information Around the World: Planned Events for RTK Day 2006

In 2005, around 45 civil society organizations in more than 30 countries around the globe marked Right to Know Day with events, reports, press coverage, and other activities to raise public awareness about the right to know. A number of similar events have been planned for the week of September 28, 2006. For more RTK Day events and news, see
Association for Civil Rights (ADC) in Argentina will distribute in Buenos Aires t-shirts promoting the right to information and leaflets explaining how to make a FOI request, both designed by a top public affairs agency; publish an article in Clarin, one of the largest newspapers in Argentina, and will do interviews on radio stations; and conduct a training session at the Catholic Communication University, with more than 200 people are expected to attend.

Other Vision Communication (OVC), Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), and Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) will publish a poster, a leaflet and a postcard about Right to Know Day, and will also arrange various events around the country.

Access to Information Programme will hold a press conference on September 28 to present awards to Bulgarian citizens, media and NGOs who have actively exercised their rights to freedom of information. A “Golden key” award will be given to the institution that has best organized its activities to supply information to the public. The “Golden padlock” award will be given to the institution that has most severely violated the right of access to information. A “Tied key” award will be given to the institution that has issued the most absurd and/or funny decision to withhold information requested under APIA.

In honor of Right to Know Week, the Canadian Newspaper Association has just released its second national audit, “Canada’s Right to Know on Shaky Ground: 2nd National Freedom of Information Audit Reveals Major Barriers Remain”

CNA and other groups will be sponsoring events around the country to celebrate the first Right to Know Week in Canada:

IPYS Colombia called on journalists attending an international meeting on freedom of information in Bogota to help raise awareness of the right to information by covering International Right to Know Day. There was a round table discussion about the Right to Know with representatives from all of the main media organizations. More information can by found on the IPYS Peru and Interprensa websites.

Pro Acceso in Chile, together with other organizations in Latin America, will conduct a publicity campaign to highlight the imminent decision in the case against Chile at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In October and November, they will also organize a series of seminars and meetings with various political and social personalities and academics to discuss the court’s decision.

The Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights will hold a discussion to look at key FOI cases, with freedom of information and data protection experts, distinguished academics, the prime minister and other government officials and MPs; and they are planning a media campaign, including a TV spot, press releases, and interviews.

Dominican Republic
Participacion Ciudadana in the Dominican Republic is celebrating Right to Know Day with a week of activities including:

  • 25 September: Press release about Right to Know Day
  • 25 September: Launch of a network of community radio stations that will broadcast a pilot educational programme on the Free Access to Public Information law.
  • 26 September: Presentation of 2nd annual report on implementation of the Free Access to Public Information Law
  • 27 September: Presentation of results of diagnostic on supply and demand of information in 8 pilot institutions
  • 28 September: Panel discussion on “Progress, challenges and obstacles to implementation of the Law of Free Access to Public Information,” in coordination with the Dominican Journalists Association.

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) together with the Georgian Public Defender (Ombudsman) and the Georgian Ministry of Education will arrange for lessons to be conducted in secondary schools throughout the country, informing the students about the right to obtain information from the government and providing leaflets prepared for Right to Know Day. GYLA will also release the results of a survey to determine which public agencies are most effective and which are least effective at providing information to the public; and will also open a FOI hotline to provide free legal consultations on FOI issues, which will be advertised on the radio and in the print media.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) will launch its new publication, “Implementing Access to Information: a practical guide to operationalising freedom of information laws.” The report sets out a step-by-step guide on how to overcome entrenched bureaucratic cultures of secrecy, inconsistent legislation, process and system constraints and a lack of understanding of the law by officials to ensure effective implementation of freedom of information laws. In advance of Right to Know Day, CHRI has also produced a backgrounder paper, to assist groups in writing articles to raise awareness about the right to information on the day.

The ATI Advisory Stakeholders Committee will hold a press conference on September 28, 2006, at which they have asked the Minister of Information, Senator Colin Campbell, to be the guest speaker. The Press Conference is meant to highlight the achievements made since the passage of the Access to Information Act in 2002, as well as to point out problems that need to be resolved. They will also organize other media activities to focus attention on ATI.

International Commission of Jurists, Kenya, will hold a public forum in the Ministry of Information Building, with the hope that the Minister will come down a few floors and deliberate about the enactment of an FOI law in Kenya. The confirmed speakers at the forum include: the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Government Spokesman, the Chair of the National Commission on Human Rights, the Executive Member of the Media Council of Kenya, and a Local Government Representative. ICJ-Kenya will also run a supplement in the popular daily paper and use reference materials, posters and banners to highlight key messages about the Right to Know.

Open Society Institute Foundation of the Republic of Macedonia together with the President of the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Information in Macedonia, OSI-Macedonia will distribute leaflets in the most popular daily newspaper, Dnevnik (circulation 35,200). The leaflets will contain information about the right to access information and the mandate of the Commission, a new FOI website, and a hotline for free legal advice on FOI complaints.

PRO MEDIA will hold a meeting to promote the second version of the Guide for Information Holders and Information Requesters (total circulation approx. 8000), in cooperation with the Commission on Free Access to Information. The President of the Parliament (Mr. Ljubisha Georgievski) and the Ambassador and Head of OSCE Spillover Monitoring Mission of OSCE in Skopje (Mr. Carlos Pais) will address the meeting, to be held in the Parliament building. Senior government officials and representatives from the NGO sector will attend.

The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) will be officially launching a national FOI campaign, including a mascot (a firefly) and leaflets, to be distributed at the KL Twin Towers. In this evening, CIJ will be holding a forum on the issue, and they have also received significant media coverage recently.

The Hewlett Foundation, Global Development Program, has launched a new one-stop shopping Web site that includes a great deal of information about transparency and right to know in Mexico, both at federal and state level.

Libertad de Información México A.C. (LIMAC) will release two major studies. The first is a national survey on the knowledge of the Mexican FOI law amongst regular citizens and academics. The second is a new book by LIMAC President, Ernesto Villanueva, containing an extensive legal analysis of FOI laws in 68 countries, comparing basic provisions and standards of openness.

“Acces-info” Center will hold a National Annual Conference, organised in cooperation with the Parliament, on “Free Access to Information: legislation, practices, perspectives”; a roundtable entitled “Transparency in decision making process: transfer of good practices”; and several training workshops for journalists.

MANS will organize a press conference to present key achievements in the fight against corruption made by using a law on free access to information as well as key challenges in enforcement of the law. The group will also distribute brochures, badges, leaflets and T-shirts on free access to information, with the awareness campaign mainly focused the use of FAI in privatization issues.

Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has put out a press release entitled “FOI Laws must be Strengthened in Accordance with International Best Practices,” calling on the Government of Pakistan to strengthen freedom of information legislation with the aim of promoting transparency and citizens’ participation in governance.

Consejo de la Prensa Peruana has invited print, radio and television media around the country to celebrate the Right to Know Day by printing one of four posters promoting access to information. The organization will also run radio spots, conduct interviews, and public special features about RTK Day in various print media.

In seven regional centers and neighboring municipalities members of the NGO Coalition on Free Access to Information and Fund for an Open Society, Serbia will organize round tables, tribunes, TV talk shows in which they will present the results of the monitoring process conducted over the past year and a half. The Coalition will also organize street events and distribute promotional materials, together with policy paper titled “The Right to Free Access to Information,” which will also be sent to each member of the Serbian Parliament.

A central celebration will be organized in Belgrade, consisting of a special program organized by the American Bar Association (ABA/CEELI) with USAID support, together with three major actors in the field of free access to information: the Commissioner for free access to information, NGO Coalition for Free Access to Information, and Independent Journalist Association of Serbia (IJAS). These groups will give Annual Awards for the most accountable and transparent public body in implementing the FOI Law in Serbia. The Jury, consisting of 4 NGO representatives, 4 from IJAS, and the Serbian Commissioner for Free Access to Information, will also give an award for the journalist/researcher who has made the most important contribution in the promotion of the FOI Law and to the development of investigative journalism in Serbia through his/her work.

Sierra Leone
Possible activities planned for this day include: a rally on the streets of Freetown; a pop concert; radio panel discussions; the pasting up of posters, and circulation of leaflets; a pop concert of leading musicians; meeting of individual media, civil society, and political leaders. The Freedom of Information Coalition – Sierra Leone hopes that these activities will help with their effort to secure one million signatures of citizens and foreign residents who are supportive of a Freedom of Information Act in Sierra Leone before the General Elections in 2007.

The Office of the Information Commissioner has planned an event, at which government officials and other experts will participate, giving their views about the future of the right to know in Slovenia. In addition, the Information Commissioner will prepare a brochure describing the right to know and success stories. They will also a press conference and publish a press release on their Web site.

Access Info Europe and Sustentia of the Coalicion Pro Acceso, a group of civil society organizations concerned about human rights issues, are promoting the adoption of an access to information law in Spain. The group is marking Right to Know Day 2006 by presenting a set of 9 principles that should be included in any future law.

The Directorate of Information in Ministry of Information and National Guidance, in conjunction with Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, organized a two-day Roundtable on “Fostering Open Government through Access to Information” that attracted 55 key stakeholders, policy makers and implementers both from government and the private sector. The meeting took place at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel on September 18-19, 2006.

The Ukrainian Association of Media Lawyers will publish an article in Zerkalo Nedely, one of the most respected weekly papers in the country, and also will release a 60-page bulletin on FOI issues, to be distributed amoung journalists, lawyers and judges.

United Kingdom
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has planned a new Publication Scheme Development and Maintenance Initiative with two goals: firstly to work with Public bodies to encourage a comprehensive inclusion of information across each sector thereby creating more consistency across schemes for, clarification for public bodies as to what information should proactively be disseminated and also reducing the bureaucracy surrounding the approval of schemes; and secondly to move public sector thinking away from promoting the “publication scheme” and ‘classes’ of information, to promoting access to information, and clearly stating what information is routinely published and readily available thereby enlightening a wider range of users to the information that can be accessed without the need for a request.

Transparencia Venezuela is celebrating Right to Know Day with the launch of two new FOI tools. The goal of the Project on Transparency and Access to Public Information, is to facilitate the exercise of each citizen’s right to public information in accordance with the rights guaranteed in the constitution. The Manual on Access to Public Information for the Management of Municipal Transparency is a primer for civil servants on the conceptual basis and judcial requirements of the access law, and a guide on best practices.

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