China to Allow Appeals Over Failure to Provide Information

17 August 2011

Chinese citizens will be able to sue the central government and local governments if their requests for information are denied according to a judicial explanation (in Chinese) from China’s Supreme People’s Court, according to a report from China’s official news agency, Xinhua.

The explanation, which was issued on Aug. 13, “confirmed that citizens may file lawsuits against their local governments if their requests for information disclosures are rejected or if they do not receive a response from the government before a specified deadline,” Xinhua reported.

“The regulation specified cases that the courts should accept, including governments’ denial or delay of information disclosures upon public request,” the report continued. “Under the new rules, citizens are also entitled to bring lawsuits if their local governments fail to respond to disclosure requests, even if they do not have a direct stake in the disclosure,” according to Xinhua.

“If the government is required to publicize information on its own initiative but fails to do so, citizens may first ask the government to disclose the information and sue the government if their prior requests are refused, the explanation said,” Xinhua said.

The courts may order disclosures, an official with the SPC told the newspaper.

“The SPC official said that according to Friday’s explanation, government departments that deny disclosure requests must offer valid reasons for their denials or provide evidence to the courts that specifies that the requested information is classified,” Xinhua said. The paper also reported that information involving state secrets, commercial secrets or individual privacy should not be released,  but commercial secrets and individual private information can be disclosed with proper consent.

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