FOI Notes: Algeria, US, Slovakia, Tunisia, Israel, Namibia, Myanmar, Open Data

2 March 2017

Algeria: A top Ministry of Justice official says the ministry is drafting a bill that enshrines the right of access to information guaranteed by the Constitution, according to a Huffington Post article.

United States: “Transparency And FOIA In The Age Of Trump,” articles in Quill by three experts:
– Lucy Dalglish: Under Trump, A (Potentially) Bright Spot In A Foggy Landscape

– Michael Morisy: Let’s Teach Old Public Records Laws New Tricks

– David Cuillier: Trump To Make FOI Great Again

Slovakia: Ombudswoman Jana Dubovcová says the Foreign Ministry wrongly withheld documents sought by Transparency International Slovensko, according to a Spectator article. Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák refused to publish agreements and invoices concerning the ceremonial introduction of Slovakia’s EU Council presidency logo. In an 18-page document, the ombudswoman says the ministry violating fundamental rights and recommended that the department should send to TIS all the documents that it had failed to provide.

Tunisia: Officials follow through on their pledge to retract the controversial Circular No. 2017-4 on the right of access to public information.

Israel: A proposed law would require nongovernmental organizations to pay to obtain information from government agencies under the Freedom of Information Act. Currently, all NGOs are exempt from paying a fee. The bill seeks not only to revoke this exemption for organizations that get more than 50 percent of their funding from foreign governments, and would require them to pay double the normal fee, Haaretz and others report.

Namibia: Ombudsman John Walters says he will assess whether the request by the Landless People’s Movement to force the ministry of lands to release the list of resettlement farm beneficiaries is within his jurisdiction before taking any action, The Namibian reports.

United States: The National Security Archive and the Project on Government Oversight are conducting a voluntary, short survey on how FOIA searches are conducted at different agencies.  The goal is to get a baseline so that the FOIA Federal Advisory Committee and other organizations can collaboratively work on ways to improve the process. The FOIA Federal Advisory Committee has a subcommittee devoted to studying searches, and a robust response to this survey will help ensure they have a representative view of issues surrounding FOIA searches from agency and requester community perspectives. The survey link is:

Myanmar: A Right to Information Law was drafted during the term of the Thein Sein government but little has been heard about it since the NLD took office,” according to an article by Sithu Aung Myint in Frontier. “The absence of such a law is one reason why journalists continue to have difficulty getting information from the government.”

Burkina Faso: A short summary (in French) of the 2015 law.

Lebanon: The new access law is praised by Article 19.

Commentary: “How the transparency lobby fatally weakened parliamentary democracy,” an opinion piece by Paul Evans.

Open Data Day: A list of all the events being held March 4 to commemorate the 7th International Open Data Day.

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