Commissioners Concerned About Challenges to RTI

27 April 2015

Thirty-five information commissioners from 25 countries, meeting April 21 in Santiago, Chile, “expressed concern” regarding “some important challenges” to the right to information.

In particular, the commissioners identified:

  • The continuing inequalities that limit the right to access information for all citizens,
  • The deterioration of the right to access information because of the approval of legislation and public policies contrary to that right,
  • The weakening of the right to access information through the use of new technologies,
  • The lack of adequate funding, support and maintenance of the organs of supervision.

The commissioners urged governments, civil society organizations, the international community and citizens “to remain vigilant and work together to protect, promote and strengthen an effective right to access information.”

The concern about new technology references a perceived loss of documentation of decision-making as the result of official use of private email and text communications that do not go through government servers.

The conclusions, described in a draft resolution, were arrived at during the Ninth International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC). The presentations during the conference, mostly in PowerPoint and in Spanish, are here.) The commissioners held a private session at which working groups considered four topics and generated a variety of recommendations.  The resolution has not yet been officially issued pending signatures.

Mediation Backed, Goals Set 

The commissioners supported the use of alternative dispute resolution to resolve access to information disputes and expressed an interest in unifying the measurement of access laws.

The commissioners discussed ways to collaborate more and to share experiences.

They agreed to form a small working group to explore the establishment of a permanent working mechanism for the ICIC that could monitor and follow up of the issues discussed at the meetings and promote and coordinate the exchange of experiences and good practices. Commissioners from Canada, Scotland, Indonesia, Mexico and Chile will make up the working group.

Forms of alternative dispute resolution in the context of access to information should be explored, according to the resolution.

“The participants in this conference commit to share the best practices in the forms of alternative dispute resolution for the right to access public information,” the resolution states.

The commissioners also suggesting creating a catalog of existing international measures of the right to information and evaluating the relevance of these indicators. They recommended assessment of the need for “a unified measurement model” with “new indicators for common measurement.” Good practices for national measurement systems should be shared, they also said.

Based on a discussion of “comparative case law,” the commissioners said “regional platforms of case law “should be strengthened” so as “to create a future network that will be shared with all members of the organization, at national, provincial or federal level.”

Another goal in the resolution says: “Generate an updated directory that will contain the general data of the access to information guarantor bodies, their contact information and appropriate material to allow a fluid and effective communication between the members of the organization. The information will be submitted voluntarily by the members.”

In an internal communications move, the commissioners agreed to “update voluntarily, via mailing list of members of the organization, the decisions of the guarantor organs or courts decisions which have significance or impact on the right of access to information, and also updates of the regulations in the subject.”

The Council for Transparency in Chile was designated as the technical secretariat to manage the information to be supplied by the members of the organization.

The 10th International Conference on Information Commissioners will be held in 2017 in Bali, Indonesia, and will be organized by the Indonesia Information Commissioner.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: ,

Filed under: What's New