Most OGP Countries Overlook RTI Reform, CDL Study Finds

12 July 2012

Only 30 percent of the countries that have joined the Open Government Partnership and submitted action plans have pledged to substantially enhance their legal frameworks for the right to information, according to a report released July 11 by the Centre for Law and Democracy, a Canadian-based nongovernmental organization.

 “Just 13 of the 44 Plans include a pledge to engage in serious RTI law reform,” CLD said. “The remaining 31 either do not mention RTI or propose only minor improvements.”  There are 55 OGP member countries, but so far only 44 action plans.

“This is problematical given that an assessment of the RTI frameworks in those 31 countries, done as part of the RTI Rating, suggests that many of these countries have serious shortcomings in their laws,” the report said, referring to the ratings of RTI legal structures done by CDL and Access Info Europe.  (See previous report.)

The research indicates that 14 OGP countries have RTI laws that score under 50 percent in the ratings. Of these, 12 submitted action plans, but only four of these address RTI reform. Of the 26 OGP countries with action plans and scores above 50 percent , four included plans for RTI reform.

“States cannot claim to be serious about open government if they do not have a strong framework for the right to information,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD.

“The fact that so few OGP Participating States have pledged to make improvements to their RTI frameworks suggests that some governments may be taking advantage of the OGP to improve their image while doing little of the hard work needed to actually enhance transparency, accountability and  citizen participation.”

CLD said the OGP “should develop standards relating to all major issues covered by the core commitments States make when they join, as set out in the Declaration of Principles.

Every state which participates in the OGP should be expected to have an RTI law, or adopt one soon after joining, Mendel said.  Seven of the 55 members lack RTI laws, although most have pledged to pass laws, the report details.

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