FOI Notes: Nigeria, Malawi, UK, TI, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, US, UN

26 January 2017

Nigeria: A court victory for a group of requesters seeking access to documents concerning the Niger Delta Development Commission. An opinion from the court states that the right to information is a human right, awards fees to the requesters and fines the respondents. In another development, The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative unveiled two documents designed to enhance transparency and accountability in the extractive industries.

Pakistan: “The Senate’s Select Committee on Right to Information Bill 2016 on Wednesday agreed on 10 clauses of the bill after a thorough debate and decided to review 12 more in its next meeting,” The News reports.

Malawi: The recently passed FOI legislation, still not signed, could help communities affected by the extractive industries get information about related environmental, health, and safety risks, Human Rights Watch, Malawi’s Natural Resources Justice Network, and the Centre for Law and Democracy said in a joint announcement.

OGP: A mid-term review of its current four-year strategy was carried out by the Development Portfolio Management Group based at the University of Southern California. The report assesses four key areas, a) OGP’s theory of change, b) OGP’s chain of interactions and outcomes, c) rules of the game, and d) structure, organs, and finance. A draft report was submitted to the OGP Steering Committee and Support Unit in early December 2016 and shared with the OGP community ahead of the 2016 Summit. The evaluation team have now incorporated comments and finalized the report. The final review is available here.

Commentary: “Can transparency build trust? Why 2017 must be the year that open government demonstrates transformative impact,” writes Andrew Clarke of Omidyar Network.

Now that significant (though incomplete) progress has been made on transparency, we hope that energies are increasingly focused on using that information to strengthen policy-making and actually improve people’s lives.

United Kingdom: Paul Gibbons writes in the Freedom of Information Journal about pro-active publication of information, concluding in part, “There is more need than ever for public bodies to list in one place the information that they make available, at what cost, and whether it can be re-used.”

Transparency International: The Berlin-based anti-corruption organization Transparency International has stripped its US affiliate — Transparency International USA — of its accreditation. But increasingly it has been seen in the United States as a corporate front group, funded by multinational corporations — the same multinationals that corrupt the U.S. political system. TI’s press release says “…the basis for the disaccreditation was the Board’s recognition of differences in philosophies, strategies, and priorities between the former chapter and the Transparency International Movement.”

Pakistan: The struggles of a journalist to obtain information, described by The News reporter, Fakhar Durrani.

Sri Lanka: An official notice that the new RTI law is in force as of Feb. 3.

India: Maharashtra State Chief Information Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad proposes amendment of the RTI act to give it more teeth, reports The Hindustan Times.

United Nations: “The 193-member UN General Assembly has been dragging its feet on a proposal that has been kicked around the corridors of the United Nations for over 10 years: a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) providing journalists the “right to information” in a sprawling bureaucracy protective of its turf,” according to an article by Thalif Deen for Inter Press Service.

Commentary: “Don’t redact FOI answers with a marker pen,” writes Terence Eden, pointing out the weakness of the technigue,

Police Body Cameras: The US Urban Institute publishes a state-by-state chart on laws governing how and when police body-worn cameras can be used and whether the footage is released vary considerably across the country.

Book Review: A review of a book Transparency and the open society: Practical lessons for effective policy, by Roger Taylor and Tim Kelsey.

Open Data: “Open Data Meets Digital Curation: An Investigation of Practices and Needs,” an article in the US Library Journal.

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