Problems Found in Handling of RTI Requests in Indonesia

4 May 2012

A requesting exercise in Indonesia had only a 46 percent success rate, and generated some recommendations for administrators of the right to information law to address “significant problems.”

The project was conducted by the Alliance of Independent Journalists and the Centre for Law and Democracy, who also conducted a workshop evaluating the experience.

CLD and AJI held a workshop in Jakarta April 25 as part of the project,  which trained local groups working in different sectors to make requests for information.

The project started with RTI training sessions attended by 60 journalists and civil society representatives in Jakarta, Surabaya and Lampung. The participants then filed RTI requests to various government agencies. Their reports on their experiences were the basis for a study unveiled at the workshop which indicated “significant problems with the way public authorities handle RTI requests, in most cases failing to live up to the legal standards of Indonesia’s Law Regarding Transparency of Public Information,” according to a CLD press releases.

“Out of a total of 224 information requests, information was only granted in 104 of them, representing just 46 percent,” according to CLD. “Many participants reported that officials either lost or ignored their requests, and in many cases participants had to return repeatedly to the authorities in order to have their requests processed.”

“There are still many public authorities in Indonesia who do not understand their transparency obligations. In addition, not all of Indonesia’s regions have set up Information Commissions to protect the public right of access. Civil society should be aware of these deficiencies and work to promote implementation of the transparency law,” said Eko Maryadi, president of AJI Indonesia.

A number of structural problems with the way the government handled the requests were identified:

  1. Public authorities should always issue a receipt when a request for information is submitted, as required by section 22(4) of the RTI law; this should indicate the date and time of the request, and bear the signature of the receiving officer.
  2. All public authorities should designate an Information Officer (PPID), to facilitate the filing of requests for information as required by section 13(1) of the RTI law.
  3. Public authorities should respect the timelines in section 22(7) of the RTI law, which require a response to be provided within 10 working days.
  4. Public authorities should ensure that refusals of requests are based on a real possibility of significant harm to a legitimate interest, and take into account the public interest test in section 2(4) of the RTI law.
  5. The Central Information Commission should draft regulations on access fees, which should be limited to the actual costs incurred in supplying the information, in order to prevent officials from overcharging and pocketing the proceeds, and which should mandate that requests for 50 pages or less should be free of charge.

 The project also resulted in a database of the requests.

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