FOI Notes: Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Open Data, Cyprus, Lebanon, Environmental Transparency, US, Malawi, OGP

23 February 2017

Tunisia: Following objections from journalism groups and other organizations, the government says it will revise controversial decrees, according to a Kapitalis news report (in French). The groups’ statement called on the government to “review decree 4030 and immediately withdraw circular n°4″. Separately, there are indications of delay in meeting the March 24 target date for the institution of an ATI mechanism, as reported (in French) by Express FM.

Sri Lanka: “10 days of RTI in Sri Lanka,” described in an RTIWire blog post . First paragraph:

When we asked the public what information they would seek through RTI, almost a third of them referenced some form of corruption by public servants; for example asset declarations, irregularities in tenders, salaries and perks for ministers. Since February 3rd, some high profile RTI requests have indeed been in this domain of interest. Here is a round-up of five ways RTI has been used in its first week in Sri Lanka.

Cyprus: A legislative committee has begun reviewing a draft access law. Andreas Pavlou of Access Info Europe testified, expressing concern that upfront fees could be charged, that not all the exceptions have harm and/or public interest tests, that the normal deadline to answer requests is one month, and that RTI is not recognized as a fundamental right.

Lebanon: “Adoption of Right to Information Act, a promising start,” writes Jeanine Jalkh in l’Oriente le Jour.

Open Data: Transparency International and the Web Foundation examined the open data performance of five G20 countries – Brazil, France, Germany, Indonesia and South Africa, according to a summary. There are individual country reports (see below) as well as an overall report.“The basic conclusion: there isn’t enough progress. No country released all the datasets required, and much of the information proved either hard to find or difficult to use.”

Environmental Transparency: The 6th Negotiations for a Regional Agreement on access to information, public participation and access to justice regarding environmental matters is slated for March 20-24, 2017 in Brazil, as described in a press release.

South Africa: The Right2Know Campaign calls for “better transparency measures in the private sector.” A statement continues, “these must include better protection for whistleblowers, stronger and more independent regulators, and a requirement for corporations to be transparent to the public by disclosing what business agreements they are party to, and how those agreements were struck.”

United States: Mark Fenster, a law professor at the University of Florida, writes in Governance, about “Transparency in Trump’s America.”

United States: “The Georgia Legislature has long tried to control public access to its inner workings, but a battle over transparency issues has spilled into the open this year,” write Kristina Torres and Aaron Gould Sheinin in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

United States: The National Archives and Records Administration announces that the 2016 Guidance on Presidential Records is available on “This document, which NARA has prepared for every incoming administration since 2000, provides basic background information on the Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978, as amended, 44 U.S.C. §§ 2201-2209; how the National Archives implements the PRA; and how we assist the White House in managing its records under the PRA.”

Malawi: “Malawi New Information Law Fulfills President’s Campaign Promise,” according to Brian Ligomeka. of Centre for Solutions Journalism.

OGP: Twelve governments are competing for seats on the Steering Committee, reports IANS based on an OGP announcement.

Open Data: Observations on the openness of government data in Southern Africa by Tricia Govindasamy . Among the comments:

The African Development Bank developed Open Data Portals for most of the 8 countries. At first sight, these portals are quite impressive with data visualisations and graphics, however, these portals are poorly organised and rarely updated.

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