Eight Countries Adopt FOI Regimes in 2016

28 December 2016

Eight countries adopted freedom of information laws or similar administrative regulations in 2016, according to FreedomInfo.org’s running tally that now shows 115 national FOI regimes.

The number of additions in 2016 is one shy of the previous annual record of nine additions, set in 2011.

See list of FOI countries by date and alphabetically.

Joining the list in 2016 were MalawiVanuatuTanzania, Kenya, the Philippines, Sri Lanka,  Togo and Vietnam.

Moreover, there were significant upgrades in three countries previously included on the list, Argentina, Italy and Tunisia.

In Tunisia, a law was passed in March replacing a 2011 decree. A Transparency Decree in Italy was hailed as the nation’s first “real” FOI law. In Argentina, the law approved in September supersedes a limited regulation on access to information that some argued should not have been given a spot on FOI listings in the first place.

The United States adopted amendments to its law.

Activity continues in The Philippines, where Congress is considering passage of a FOI law. But the executive order issued by President Rodrigo Duterte contains the primary features of a FOI law.

Legislation in Ghana came close to passing, but failed in the end. Politicians in Pakistan continue to delay action on a pending bill, as recently described by journalist Umar Cheema. The lower House in Morocco approved a bill, but further action is required.

Promises and/or preliminary consideration of bills surfaced in a variety of countries, including Namibia, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Venezuela, Austria, Cambodia and Fiji.

The number of FOI regimes has increased dramatically in the 21st Century.

Particulars of List

FreedomInfo.org’s list builds on consensus list developed in 2012 based on consultations with international experts. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) By and large, observers are now in agreement on the tally, although listings vary somewhat based on definitions, criteria and the timing of updates.

RTI Ratings provides evaluations of the laws in 111 countries. RTI Ratings has yet to include recent laws in Malawi, Tanzania and Vanuatu. It does not include Sudan (unlike FreedomInfo.org) because although Sudan reportedly passed a law in 2014, no text seems to be available.

The Open Society Justice Initiative list counts 113 (including Sudan). Posted in September, it does not include Malawi and Vanuatu.

Article 19 publishes a FOI map and a graphic which say that 105 countries have adopted FOI laws. Other versions give regional breakdowns. Article 19 does not provide a list on its website.

Malawi is on FreedomInfo.org’s list although the bill has yet to be finally signed into law. The Tanzania law reportedly has been signed quietly, which could not be confirmed, but no final verified final version appears available. Nor is there a copy of the Vanuatu law. As a result, there is a chance these laws might not come into force. (Input from readers welcome.)

For information on individual country’s laws in FreedomInfo.org, look under “country info.” Selecting the region will reveal a list of countries. The individual country pages include articles on recent developments and research materials including the text of the law.

Brief articles in “FOI Notes” are not included on country pages, so full research on a country should include on a key word search.

 

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