Archive for 2014

  • 24 December 2014

    FOIA Bill Post Mortem: Mysteries, Multiple Causes

    By Toby McIntosh The final days of modest legislation to reform the Freedom of Information Act were surprisingly dramatic. Still lingering as a key mystery is why House Speaker John Boehner refused to bring the bill up, sealing its fate in 2014. Passage was widely considered “a no brainer,” as one supporter put it. Unusual […]

  • 24 December 2014

    South African Court Orders Release of Key Points Data

    A South African court has given the Ministry of Police 30 days to make public a list of National Key Points, places designated by the government as being of key security importance. The South Gauteng High Court Dec. 1 decision says the government’s justification for withholding these records amounted to “platitudes and a recitation of […]

  • 24 December 2014

    New Document Throws More Light on Mexico’s San Fernando Killings

    By Jesse Franzblau The author filed an information request as part of the Migration Declassified project with the National Security Archive, resulting in the IFAI judgment described here. Federal prosecutors in Mexico have made the first official disclosure of investigative files concerning state complicity in the country’s 2010–11 migrant massacres in San Fernando. In August […]

  • 24 December 2014

    Mexican Transparency Law: A Chance to Strengthen Accountability

    By Emi MacLean & Adriana García   This article appeared Dec. 15 in an Open Society Foundations blog in English and Spanish. The authors work for the Open Society Justice Initiative. It is a measure of the contradictions of Mexico’s political system that the wave of public outrage over the disappearance and presumed murder of […]

  • 24 December 2014

    FOI Notes: User Tips, UK, Mexico, Japan, Zambia, Canada, Environmental Transparency

    FOI User Tricks: Tips (and Spanish version) for using FOI penned by independent Mexican journalist Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab, who shared a Pulitzer Prize with New York Times reporter David Barstow for their investigation into Walmart’s expansion in Mexico that required more than 800 FOIA requests. There’s more detail, but in brief: Explore alternate routes. Study […]

  • 18 December 2014

    Group Complains About Spanish FOI Website

    Access Info Europe Dec. 17 asked the Spanish Ombudsman to look at various “obstacles” to using Spain’s transparency law. The Madrid-based group objected that “requesters may only send information requests via the Transparency Portal by complicated and time-consuming process, which resulted in no member of Access Info Europe has yet having completed the bureaucratic steps […]

  • 18 December 2014

    New Zealand Ombudsman Orders Review of Access

    The New Zealand Chief Ombudsman has ordered a review of the practices of government agencies in processing requests under the Official Information Act (OIA). Dame Beverley Wakem said that 12 central government agencies have been selected for formal review, while a further 63 agencies and all 27 Ministers’ offices are being asked to complete a […]

  • 18 December 2014

    Zambia Promises but no Action: 12 years waiting and still counting

    By Edem Djokotoe The author is a Ghanaian journalist and media consultant.  This is a chapter from a recently issued State of Right to Information in Africa Report 2014 and is reprinted with permission. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) Zambia’s Access to Information Bill is currently in limbo, three years after the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) government promised to enact […]

  • 18 December 2014

    EU Ombudsman Urges EIB to Release Zambian Mine Report

    The European Ombudsman has recommended that the European Investment Bank release a redacted version of a report concerning a mine in Zambia. The Bank had rejected a request from Christian Aid to publish a report on its investigation into tax evasion allegations against Mopani Copper Mines. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, whose decisions […]

  • 18 December 2014

    IFAI Orders Disclosure of Database of Professionals

    Mexico’s Federal Institute for Access to Information (IFAI) has ordered the disclosure of the database of the National Registry of Professionals. Commissioner Areli Cano Guadiana also said that greater accessibility should be provided. (See order, in Spanish) The IFAI said sensitive personal data should be exempted from disclosure, including addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. […]

  • 18 December 2014

    FOI Notes: Commentary, Research, Corporate Transparency, More

    Commentary: Maureen Kariuki, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Civil Society Coordinator for Africa and the Middle East, writes about the using the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the OGP to push access to information reforms. OGP: The OGP issues its research agenda, described in a blog post. Corporate Transparency: The topic is addressed […]

  • 17 December 2014

    Uruguayan Court Orders Release of Mine Information

    The Civil Court of Appeals in Uruguay has ordered the release of information about an iron mine, finding that disclosure under an environmental law trumps the company’s confidentiality claim. (See decision in Spanish.) In confirming a lower court decision, the court said the Ministry of Industry must release the information related to the mining project […]

  • 17 December 2014

    South Sudan Approved Right to Information Law in 2013

    South Sudan has a right to information law (text). The little known development occurred a year ago. President Salva Kiir signed the bill on Dec. 9, 2013, and the signing remained unknown for several months, according to African RTI experts, giving rise to speculation that the signature was backdated. The Right of Access to Information […]

  • 12 December 2014

    Hail Mary Option for FOI Bill in Senate Ruled Out

    A last-ditch way to pass freedom of information act reforms in the US Congress this year – bringing up the House bill on the Senate floor – has been ruled out. Although the idea has been considered, it was rejected because of the likelihood that some senators would object, FreedomInfo.org has been told. Without unanimous […]

  • 11 December 2014

    House Speaker Unaware of Plans to Bring Up FOIA Bill

    Republican House Speaker John Boehner Dec. 11 gave no encouragement to supporters of a freedom of information reform bill clinging to hope for last-minute House passage of a bill with no known congressional opponents. “I have no knowledge of what the plan is for that bill,” Boehner said when asked about it by a reporter […]

  • 11 December 2014

    Provision in Mexican Bill Worries Access Activists

    Transparency advocates in Mexico are concerned about a provision in pending legislation that could be used to sanction public officials who disclose or order the disclosure of information. The controversial provision was added late in the process to a package that Congress is considering to flesh the constitutional FOI reforms approved earlier this year. (See […]

  • 11 December 2014

    UNEP Seeks Public Comments On Pilot Phase Access Policy

    The United Nations Environmental Programme is inviting comments on its access to information policy now in a “pilot phase.” On June 6, 2014, UNEP announced the policy and said it would be reviewed by the UNEP secretariat for possible refinement after a year. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report on announcement here, and stories about critiques of […]

  • 11 December 2014

    From Open Data to a Right to Data

    The following article is reprinted from the Worldwide Web Foundation website where it appeared Dec. 9. For more information, contact Savita Bailur, savita.bailur@webfoundation.org FreedomInfo.org is interested in your reactions to this article. Please send comments to freeinfo@gwu.edu. “Data are the lifeblood of decision-making and the raw material for accountability,” says a new UN report. We couldn’t […]

  • 11 December 2014

    Spanish Law Effective; Problems Affect First Day

    On the first day that Spain’s access to information law (English version) was effective, Dec. 10, users experienced difficulty using the online request system, according to the lobbying group Access Info Europe. The group reported that it could not manage to make a request. Also, requesters from some EU countries were redirected to websites in […]

  • 11 December 2014

    FOI Notes: Open Data, UK, Philippines, US, Funding

    Open Data: A new report from Open Knowledge documents the growth in the availability of government data. The UK tops the 2014 Index again, closely followed by Denmark and then France at number 3 up from 12th last year. “Overall, whilst there is meaningful improvement in the number of open datasets (from 87 to 105), […]