Draft Italian Access Decree Still Disappoints Supporters

15 February 2016

An Italian right to information decree has now been released officially and appears to live up to low expectations.

FOIA4Italy issued a statement lamenting weaknesses in the decree approved by the Council of Ministers, calling it very disappointing. It was not much changed from a leaked version.

There are not many chances of changing it, an Italian advocate told FreedomInfo.org. Only two weeks are left for the government to make the reforms in public administration, including FOIA, under a larger mandate granted by Parliament. Parliamentary committees may offer opinions, but they are nonbinding.

Citizens are granted only a theoretical principle without any concrete guarantee of access to documents and data information, FOIA4Italy said in a statement. The relationship between the decree and the existing access law is not clearly delineated, the group said.

The decree “is NOT a FOIA,” the group said, citing a variety of factors.

Among other things, the decree would permit tacit refusals by public bodies without adequate sanctions. The exemptions are vague, leaving too much room for interpretation and therefore to possible litigation, the group also said.

In addition, there is no guarantee that access to electronic documents would be free and the other potential costs for requesters are imprecisely defined.

A hard-hitting examination of the pros and cons of the decree has been written by Alessandro Bampa in WildItaly. He calls the draft a “fraud on transparency.”



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