FOI Notes: Pakistan, COP21, Open Data, Aarhus, India, New York, Tanzania, UK, Isle of Man, Jersey

17 December 2015

Pakistan: Dawn reporter Salman Yousafzai examines in detail the slow delivery of documents and other problems facing journalists and other requesters trying to use the Right to Information Act Act, passed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in October 2013.

COP21: The lack of transparency at the climate change talks is examined in a CounterPunch article by Curtis FJ Doebbler is a visiting professor of international law at the University of Makeni, Webster University (Geneva) and the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations.

Open Data: Hazwany Jamaluddin of the Sinar Project in Malaysia writes about open data and FOI in Southeast Asia in a blog post for the Open Knowledge Foundation. “There are few countries in Southeast Asia region – Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR, Singapore, East Timor and Malaysia – that are falling behind in the global open data movement, while others – Indonesia and Philippines – are advancing as members of Open Government Partnership.”

EU: The fourth meeting of the Task Force on Access to Information under the Aarhus Convention  took place Dec. 8-10 in Geneva. Notes on the meeting reports: “The meeting focused on the scope of information, its quality and associated costs, the application of certain restrictions on access to environmental information, dissemination of environmental information through electronic information tools and the further development of the Aarhus Clearinghouse and national nodes.”

India: Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder of Paytm, an Indian e-commerce shopping website, has agreed to sponsor 1,000 Right to Information requests for onlineRTI.com, a Bengaluru-based platform that helps people file these applications online. “RTI is a good mechanism for transparency in governance and it has truly brought some power to the common man. People have been truly empowered by using this tool,” Sharma told the Economic Times.

India: A government website for filing RTI applications will be converted into Hindi language, the government.  The portal — www.rtionline.gov.in — is now available in English only, reported DNAIndia.

India: OnlineRTI, an online service to file RTI applications, has raised about $150K in capital from investors, reports IAM Wire.

Argentina: Civil society organizations — including Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ), Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC), Fundación Directorio Legislativo and Poder Ciudadano — have launched the Agenda de Transparencia para Argentina with a broad platform of openness reforms.

 

Tanzania: A FOI bill is just one piece of pending legislation (maybe) discussed in an article by Tom Rhodes, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ East Africa representative. “Elections in Tanzania passed smoothly in October, but several local journalists and a media lawyer told me the spectre of anti-press laws is casting a pall over critical reporting in the country and that hopes for legal reform under the newly elected President John Pombe Magufuli remain muted,” the article begins.

Malawi: The Journalists Union of Malawi and other groups issue a statement that among other things urges passage of a FOI law ”without further excuses.”

Ivory Coast: The information commission held a seminar for journalists Dec. 10, according to an article (in French).

New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs an executive order to expedite the appeals process for FOI requests, the Times Union reports. His action came the day after he vetoed two FOI bills. “The first would have awarded attorney fees to plaintiffs when judges found they were improperly denied records by state agencies; the other would have shortened the time an agency could drag out an appeal after it lost a court case requiring them to release records,” according to an article in The Times-Union. A Daily Gazette editorial criticizes Cuomo’s decisions and links to his veto messages. It says: “The governor has promised to introduce a package of Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)-related reforms next year. Let’s hope he does a better job advocating for the citizens’ right to know with his new initiative than he did with this weekend’s actions.”

United Kingdom: Prince Charles receives copies of confidential cabinet documents, according to government papers released after a freedom of information battle, the BBC says. So does Prince Wiliam, according to another BBC report.

Isle of Man: The FOI law for the Isle of Man will go into effect Feb. 1, 2016, IOM Today reports.

Jersey: Plans to extend Jersey’s freedom of information law to government owned companies will not happen until 2017, the BBC reports.

 

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