FOI Notes: New Publications

13 August 2010

Several new publications of possible interest —  on Latin America, transparency and secrecy, Ireland, and whether to be nice or nasty when making FOI requests.

FOI in Latin America

Greg Michener’s extensive history of the FOI movement in Latin America, his dissertation, is available on his website.  He defended his dissertation at the University of Texas and recently moved to Rio de Janeiro.  

Transparency and Secrecy

Rutgers University professor Suzanne Piotrowski’s book “Transparency and Secrecy: A Reader Linking Literature and Contemporary Debate” has just been published.

To order the book, request an exam copy, see the table of contents or read the reviews go to  Copies of the book can be purchased in U.S dollars, British Pounds or Euros.

 Irish FOI Study

A publication on the economic justification for FOI in Ireland by Nat O’Connor is available.

Honey or Vinegar

Here are two research articles regarding access to information are in the latest issue of Communication Law & Policy (volume 15, Issue 3, June 2010).

One, by Daxton R. “Chip” Stewart, of Texas Christian University, concerns the enforcement provisions of the public access laws in jurisdictions across the United States to explore the remedies available, including equitable relief such as injunctions and mandamus, actual and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and civil and criminal sanctions. Structural difficulties were revealed that can make these remedies toothless for people unlawfully denied access. The article concludes by suggesting improvements such as enhanced and uniform penalties, more consistent enforcement, and alternatives to litigation.

The second, by David Cuillier, of the University of Arizona, reports on experiments to examine the effect of persuasion tactics and litigation threats on agency adherence to public records laws. In both experiments the threatening letter resulted in slightly higher response rates, lower copy fees and faster response times, however, the friendly letter resulted in more helpful behavior from agencies. The article concludes by discussing implications for journalists, compliance-gaining theory in a legal realm, and freedom of information.

 Mendel in Arabic

The second, updated and revised, edition of Toby Mendel’s Freedom of Information: A Comparative Legal Survey has been translated into Arabic and is now available both in print and online versions.

The publication analyses the notion of the right to information, surveys international standards and trends, outlines the key features of a right to information regime and presents a comparative legal analysis covering 14 different countries.

The publication is also available in its original English version, as well as in Chinese, French, Nepalese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish for free download in PDF format: click here.

Future Events

For upcoming events in the transparency sphere, see the Carter Center calendar.

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