FOI Notes: New Book, New Research Funding, New Developments

23 July 2015

New Book: Article 19 has published a new e-book, Governance for Sustainable Development- The Post-2015 Agenda, a publication that “compiles the main elements of discussions had by governmental representatives, UN officials, experts, and civil society during workshops on the post-2015 agenda, hosted by the Friends of Governance for Sustainable Development.” The book’s first chapter, ‘The Role of the Right to Information in Sustainable Development’ is written by Article 19’s David Banisar.

India: The National Crime Records Bureau plans to collect data on attacks on Right to Information activists, journalists and whistleblowers. There are concerns that the system proposed to collect data from police stations will undercount the number of cases. The new reporting template has three separate categories under which the data would be collected – attack on media persons, attack on whistleblowers and attack on RTI/social activists. Informal counts say that in the 10 years of the RTI Act more than 40 RTI users and activists have been murdered and more than 240 physically attacked or mentally harassed. The effort was praised as “a belated but commendably important first step towards recognising that phenomenon” by Venkatesh Nayak, Programme Coordinator of the Access to Information Programme at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.However, he said, “there are some technical problems in the manner of collection of such information.”

OGP: The Open Government Partnership is inviting research proposals on the commitments made by participating countries in their National Action Plans.  “A total of six grants of EUR 2500 each will be awarded and the lead authors of the three best papers will be invited to present their work at the 2015 OGP Global Summit in Mexico. This research is supported by a grant of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada. Proposals are being requested in two broad categories:

(A) Research that makes use of existing OGP data, including the NAPs, IRM data and the OGP Explorer for cross-thematic or cross country analysis. Data visualizations are encouraged.

(B) Preliminary research to help OGP understand its impact in participating countries. Proposals that present a framework and concrete example of how OGP can capture its contribution both at the country and at the initiative levels are encouraged.

The deadline for submitting proposals is 5pm GMT on or before 5th August 2015.

IFTI Watch: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors July 21 approved a new policy governing procurement in projects financed by the Bank. The full procurement framework with all annexes is posted here. The sections on transparency and integrity are on pp. 26-27. A Bank spokesperson said:

In short, the new Procurement Framework includes measures for enhanced integrity by introducing additional integrity-management actions where needed. It also supports improved transparency and overall timeliness with the help of a planning and tracking tool that will be used to target capacity building to speed up project implementation.

The Bank Procurement App publishes procurement data from World Bank contracts:

United States: A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., has ruled that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission should release to the National Security Archive some 9,257 pages of records produced by Chiquita Brands International to the SEC as part of an investigation of the company’s illegal payments to a Colombian terrorist organization, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a group responsible for egregious acts of violence during Colombia’s civil war. The National Security Archive is a non-governmental, pro-transparency organization and leading nonprofit user of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and publisher of FreedomInfo.org. See Archive summary.

United States: A circuit court in Missouri has ruled that the state Department of Corrections cannot withhold information about the pharmacies and laboratories that compound, test, and supply the drugs that the state uses to carry out executions, said the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press.

Spain: The Spanish government has blocked the declassification of archives dating from the Spanish Civil War and subsequent fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco arguing that it is of low importance, according to an article in The Local. The thousands of documents were classified in 1968 under the Law of Official Secrets and historians have been prevented from viewing the documents ever since.

European Union: “The Court of Justice of the European Union has issued its decision in Coty Germany GmbH v Stadtsparkasse Magdeburg (Case C-580/13), which explores the limits of banking secrecy within the context of the right to information under Article 8(3)(e) of the IP Rights Enforcement Directive (2004/48/EC),” according to a summary in World Trademark Review. It “will be welcomed by brand owners struggling to find the source of counterfeit products,” the analysis says.

United States: A profile in The New York Times of prolific FOIA requester and journalist Jason Leopold.

United States: “How university foundations try to avoid public scrutiny—and what reporters can do,” according to an article in Columbia Journalism Review.

OGP: The Open Government Partnership plans Google Hangouts on Aug. 18 at 8 am EST (English) and 10 am EST (Spanish) to discuss the OGP Explorer, a tool that provides access to OGP data. Sign up here.

Canada: “Newfoundland and Labrador Enacts Canada’s Best Access Law,” reports the Centre for Law and Democracy.

United States: “A federal judge is lashing out at the State Department for delaying for years in providing responses to Associated Press Freedom of Information Act requests seeking records about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s schedules and her top staffers,” reports Josh Gerstein in Politico.

United States: “The Failed U.S. Transparency Law That’s Killing Angola’s Economy,” an article by Elias Isaac.

 

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