FOI Notes: Malawi, Pakistan, Philippines, Bahamas, Nigeria, Tunisia, Zambia, India, US, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Open Data, Open Budgets, Commentary, Ghana, Bangladesh, Vanuatu, Seychelles, Open Eurovision

16 February 2017

Malawi: After an unexplained delay, President Peter Mutharika signs to the ATI bill passed last December, according to a Nyasa Times article, making Malawi the 22nd African nation with a FOI regime.

Pakistan: A Senate Select Committee approves an RTI bill (text not immediately available), reports Dawn and The Nation. A new clause covers footage from video cameras installed at public places. The national security exemption will not apply if the security agencies arrest and kill a citizen.

Philippines: The House Committee on Public Information unanimously approves a FOI bill. The Rappler story includes the text, which has eight exemptions.

Bahamas: The House of Assembly passes a FOI bill that critics call “bogus,” reports The Tribune.

Nigeria: The Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC), decries poor compliance to the FOIA by government agencies and demands the Annual Compliance Reports, according to a statement.

Tunisia: The government is facing accusations of rolling back access to information and media freedom. Fifteen local and international organizations, including the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists, the Tunisian League for Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights and the free-speech NGO Article 19, release a statement calling on the government to “review decree 4030 and immediately withdraw circular n°4″.

Zambia: Minister of Justice Given Lubinda says the government is still keen on delivering an ATI law, The Lusaka Times says. The Media Institute of Southern Africa Zambia Chapter welcomes the pronouncement.

South Africa: In an interview, Pansy Tlakula, chairperson of SA’s Information Regulator, says she hopes to have the information compliance body fully established by the end of the year.

Commentary: Devex reporter Lisa Cornish writes an article headlined,In an era of declining trust, how can NGOs buck the trend?” Transparency is discussed, but one study quoted says “the most effective means for NGOs to build trust is through social models.” Cornish continues, “Solidarity for a common cause, for example, enables a greater trust regardless of transparency measures that NGO may have taken.”

Open Data: Researchers with the Open Knowledge Foundation seek comment on a plan to study who makes decisions abut government data.We want to map the open data governance process and ecosystem by identifying the following key stakeholders, their roles and responsibilities in the administration of open data, and seeking how they are connected.”

India: “In absence of office bearers in State Information Commission (SIC), officials have started to give cold response to applications filed by information seekers, under Right to Information Act,” reports Greater Kashmir.

India: “Why There is An Urgent Need to Bring Political Parties Under the RTI Ambit,” write Vaishali Rawat And Hemant Singh.

India: Applicants belonging to the Below Poverty Line category will no longer be able to seek unlimited photocopies of desired information under the RTI Act under a new rule by the Maharashtra state government, The Times of India reports.

India: RTI activists are geared up to use social networks to address issues in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Bulgaria: “Every third institution in Bulgaria does not publish on the Internet the regulatory acts it issues, and half of them do not do this in relation to the general administrative acts, according to the Active Transparency Rating of the Access to Information Program (AIP) for 2016.

Kosova: “In Kosovo, access to information is well guaranteed in theory — in practise it’s a different story,” writes Furtuna Sheremeti.

Pakistan: The understaffed Punjab Information Commission has failed to ensure the implementation of RTI Law, according to a Nation article.

Ghana: The Africa Centre for Energy Policy urges the new Ghana government to speed up efforts to pass an RTI bill as promised in the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) manifesto.

Ghana: Ghana has been selected to host the second Africa Open Data Conference (AODC) in July, supported by the World Bank, Code for Africa, Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition initiative, Worldwide Web Foundation and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Sri Lanka: The new RTI law and a set of regulation combine to make the third strongest legal framework for RTI in the world and the strongest in South Asia, according to The Centre for Law and Democracy.

Commentary: Alan Hudson, Executive Director of Global Integrity, provides his take on the importance of the World Bank Development Report 2017, on governance.

Open Budget: A blog post by David Robins of the International Budget Partnership describes changes to the Open Budget Survey for 2017. 

United States: The Department of Health and Human Services is the only cabinet level agency that was able to meet President Obama’s 2009 instruction to reduce FOIA backlogs by 10 percent per year, writes Swetha Kareti in the Unredacted, a blog of the National Security Archive.

United States: The Sunlight Foundation publishes a white paper that lays out ten principles for responsible municipal data management for local government employees who want to be responsible stewards of sensitive data for their communities. 

United States: A FOIA  promotion project by the USA Today Network of newspapers in the state of New York invites assessments of the websites of New York’s counties, cities and towns via an online survey.

Bangladesh: Shamsul Bari, Chairman of RIB, writes about a cherished tree, city construction and RTK.

Open Data: A group of computer professionals in the Philippines says that the data generated using public funds should be made available to the public and without any restrictions such as in the case of state weather bureau PAGASA.

Vanuatu: Government officers estimate that it could take almost five years from the date of enactment to achieve 100 percent of all government agencies and relevant private sector organizations, The Vanuatu Daily Post reports.

Seychelles: President Danny Faure pledges to submit a new Right to Information Bill to the National Assembly “very soon.”

Open Eurovision: This year’s Eurovision song contest, scheduled for May in Ukraine, has hit another road bump as the entire organizing team has resigned over allegations about lack of transparency in the preparation process, reports Billboard.



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