FOI Notes: India, Central America, Spain, Zambia, Algeria, Ghana, US, Open Data

4 May 2017

India: A petition is being circulated to oppose “regressive changes” proposed RTI rules that “allow for withdrawal of appeals based on a written communication by the appellant  and closure of proceedings upon death of the appellant.” Separately, statistics indicate that the Central Information Commission has returned nearly half the applications it has received this year for wrongful denial of information under Right to Information (RTI) Act, seeking additional documents, reports The Times of India.

Central America: Read a report about access to information and the environment in Nicaragua, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Speakers on the topic appeared at a public hearing sponsored by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Leer en español en línea. Read in English online.

Spain: The Madrid High Court rules that the government should provide Access Info Europe with a series of documents related to its participation in the Open Government Partnership.

Zambia: The Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council urges the government to expedite the enactment of the long awaited Access to Information Bill. A statement says:

The absence of the Access to Information (ATI) Bill in Zambia means that the media cannot easily access relevant information that would assist in providing information to the masses. Access to information is a key component for citizens, especially women who need this information to better develop their abilities.

Algeria: Djilali Hadjadj, President of the Algerian Association for the Fight against Corruption (AACC), addresses (in French) the need for a FOI law, reportedly being developed by the government.

Ghana: The government is committed to the passage of RTI bill before the end of this year, Information Minister Mustapha Abdul-Hamid says.

United States: A statement by 17 organizations and individuals with expertise in governance issues gives President Trump an F for his performance on government integrity, transparency and accountability in the first 100 days of his presidency.

United States: The annual Justice report on FOIA shows a record high 788,769 FOIA requests, up 10.6% over FY 2015, and a decrease of 1.3 percent in the number processed (759,842). The reported approval rate is exaggerated, writes Lauren Harper of the National Security Archive.

United States:report published by U.S. PIRG, a public interest research group, examines the online transparency practices for “special districts” such as airports, water and sewer districts, and libraries. “It found that most of them fail to meet basic transparency standards, and a slight majority of the special districts reviewed received failing grades.” Just 38 percent of the special districts reviewed published their most recent budgets on their websites, while only 30 percent posted comprehensive annual financial reports.

India: An article about an RTI movie says: Featuring Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba, the latest AIB production talks about people trolling authorities through the RTI in their popular segment Topical-ish. In 2016, a man from Mumbai had filed an RTI with an urgent query pertaining to “the readiness of our government in the event of invasion by aliens, zombies and extra-dimensional beings.” The RTI was filed last year and was dismissed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, for being a “hypothetical situation”.

Open Data: Data findability is a major challenge, according to one of the conclusions in the 4th edition of the Global Open Data Index, “a global assessment of open government data publication.” GODI compares national government in 94 places across the 15 key datasets that have been assessed by our community as the most useful for solving social challenges.” Only 10 percent are rated as open. Check out the index via Open Knowledge International.

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