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  • 22 October 2015

    Article 19: The Right to Information in Thailand

    The following article was part of a report on the right to information in Asia published by Article 19. Reprinted with permission. The turbulent history of Thailand is reflected in the number of constitutions the country has adopted since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1932.[i] The right to information was first recognised by the […]

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  • 2 September 2011

    17 Countries Pledge to Join Open Government Partnership

    Nine countries plus the initial core group of eight have pledged to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a U.S. official told  Sept. 2, bringing total membership to 17. The nine countries that have sent in “letters of intent” are Kenya, Guatemala, Honduras, Albania, Macedonia, Malta, Georgia, Moldova and Slovakia. More letters are expected, […]

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News Archive

  • 29 November 2010

    Journalist Urges Reform of Thai FOI Law

    A prominent journalist has urged that changes be made in Thailand’s Official Information Act (OIA), arguing that in practice the law had been “a tale of disappointment, betrayal and procrastination.” Writing in The Nation Nov. 29, Kavi Chongkittavorn called on the government to propose reforms in the context of other media-related bills that are under […]

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  • 30 April 2009

    IMF Holds Consultation on Transparency Policy

    Article IV Reports Source of Tension Ana Quiros from Nicaragua had a very direct message for the International Monetary Fund. We would like to see what you are discussing with Nicaragua, and not just in a press note, said Quiros, who works for the Information Center & Advisory Services in Health (Centro de Informacion y […]

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  • 15 February 2008

    IMF Making Little Progress on Release of Article IV Reports

    The International Monetary Fund appears to have reached a plateau when it comes to releasing its key document assessing member countries. Despite its stated intention to make all Article IV reports public, only about four in five is released. About 20 countries still oppose issuance of the annual or biannual report assessing their economic policies, […]

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  • 22 September 2006

    Access to Article IV Reports Remains Major IMF Disclosure Issue

    The major disclosure issue at the International Monetary Fund remains access to its key reports about member countries, the so-called Article IV reports. Although more of these reports are now released–about 83 percent of them–there are still more than 30 countries that legally veto their disclosure. This core of resistance includes some larger countries, including […]

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  • 6 October 2005

    IMF Modifies Disclosure Policy to Address Deletions, Delay

    The International Monetary Fund has taken steps that may reduce the number of deletions made in the publicly disclosed versions of its key reports about member countries, including the significant Article IV reports. The moves come after an internal report found that more than one-third of the published reports “incorporate substantive changes” as a result […]

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  • 24 February 2004

    Parliamentarians Flex Growing Organization, Make Request of Bank

    The chairman of an international group of parliamentarians has asked the World Bank to help assure a larger role for legislatures in setting the poverty-fighting strategies within their countries. The request marks one of the first times the parliamentarians have proposed a significant and specific policy change, according to persons familiar with the group’s history. […]

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  • 22 November 2003

    THAILAND: Anti-graft Agency Exempt from Official Information Act?

    The Bangkok Post reports that the Official Information Commission will seek a Constitution Court ruling on whether the anti-graft agency was exempt from article 40 of the Official Information Act making it disclose state information. Rongpol Charoenphan, Prime Minister’s Office’s deputy permanent secretary, said the meeting, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Visanu Krue-ngam, discussed the […]

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  • 25 August 2003

    THAILAND: Deputy PM Discusses Official Information Act

    The Bangkok Post reports on the Thai Deputy Prime Minister Visanu Krue-ngam’s recent remarks at the at the United Nations building on the Official Information Act. Kruengam stated that when the act was first introduced, state agencies had complied strictly with the law requiring them to disclose official information on public demand. But as time […]

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  • 17 January 2003

    The Philippines: A Liberal Information Regime Even Without an Information Law

    Yvonne T. Chua has been the training director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) since 1995. As journalism trainer, she has trained scores of journalists in the Philippines and abroad, including Indonesia, Cambodia and Nepal. In 1999, she won the first prize in the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Investigative Journalism for her […]

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  • 1 October 2002

    Disclosure or Deception? Multilateral Development Banks and Access to Information

    By Shalmali Guttal, Focus on the Global South, October 2002 Multilateral institutions such as the Asian Development Band (ADB) and the World Bank pride themselves on their information disclosure policies. Especially since the Asian economic crisis, they have held their policies up as evidence of their commitment to transparency, accountability and participation. Information disclosure policies […]

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  • 15 July 2002

    World’s Right to Know

    By Thomas Blanton Published in Foreign Policy, July/August 2002 During the last decade, 26 countries have enacted new legislation giving their citizens access to government information. Why? Because the concept of freedom of information is evolving from a moral indictment of secrecy to a tool for market regulation, more efficient government, and economic and technological […]

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  • 5 July 2002

    ANALYSIS: Japanese Government Information: New Rules for Access – the 2001 Information Disclosure Law, and a Comparison with the U.S. FOIA

    By Lawrence Repeta and David M. Schultz Click here to view the Information Disclosure Matrix: A Comparison of Information Disclosure in Japan and the United States INTRODUCTION After more than 20 years of lobbying by Japanese citizen’s groups, opposition political parties and others, Japan’s national Information Disclosure Law came into effect on April 1, 2001 […]

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LEGAL DOCUMENTS Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, B.E. 2540 (1997)   Official Information Act, B.E. 2540 (1997)   GOVERNMENT Office of the Official Information Commission (OIC)   ORGANIZATIONS Thai Journalists' Association [in Thai]   Southeast Asian Press Alliance   OTHER RESOURCES Article 19 "country report" (2015)   Information Access and Privacy Protection in Thailand - Prof. Kittisak Prokati, Tammasat University   Challenge of Thailand's Freedom of Information - Nakorn Serirak, Office of Official Information Commission   University College of London background paper (2011)   HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Click to view. Text from the Global Survey: Freedom of Information and Access to Government Records Around the World, by David Banisar (updated July 2006)


The right to information has been recognized by the Constitution since 1991. Section 48 of the 1997 Constitution states:
A person shall have the right to get access to public information in possession of a State agency, State enterprise or local government organisation, unless the disclosure of such information shall affect the security of the State, public safety or interests of other persons which shall be protected as provided by law.
The Official Information Act was approved in July 1997 and went into effect in December 1997. The Act allows citizens to demand official information from any state body including central, provincial and local administrations, state enterprises, the courts for information unassociated with the trial and adjudication of cases, professional supervisory organizations, independent agencies of the State and other agencies as prescribed in the Ministerial Regulation. The Council of State has ruled that independent bodies such as the Anti-corruption Commission are not subject the Act. The body must respond within a "reasonable time." Information that "may jeopardize the Royal Institution" cannot be disclosed. There are discretionary exemptions for information that would: jeopardize national security, international relations or national economic or financial security; cause the decline of the efficiency of law enforcement; disclose opinions and advice given internally; endanger the life or safety of any person; disclose medical or personal information which would unreasonably encroach upon the right of privacy; disclose information protected by law or given by a person in confidence; other cases prescribed by Royal Decree. Information relating to the Royal Institution is to be kept secret for 75 years. Other information should be disclosed after 20 years which may be extended in five years periods. Those denied information can appeal to the Information Disclosure Tribunal whose decisions are deemed final except for appeals to the administrative court by citizens who believe that the decision of the tribunal was unjust. There are five tribunals set up for Foreign Affairs and National Security, National Economy and Finance, Social Affairs, Public Administration and Law Enforcement, Medicine and Public Health, and Science, Technology, Industry and Agriculture. The Official Information Board supervises and gives advice on implementation, recommends enactment of Royal Decrees, receives complaints on failure to publish information, and submits reports. The Office of the Official Information Commission (OIC), which is part of the Prime Minister's Office, is the secretariat of both bodies. The OIC reported that it handled 314 complaints and 164 appeals in 2005, from 214 complaints and 185 appeals received in 2004. Individuals and government officials have been the two largest categories of people appealing to the OIC. The Ministry of Education and local governments are the most complained against. The government has sent mixed signals on giving the OIC more power, denying a request to upgrade it to a Department but placing it under the direct control of the Prime Minister. State agencies are required to publish information relating to their structure, powers, bylaws, regulations, orders, policies and interpretations. They are also required to keep indices of documents. Historical information is sent to the National Archives Division. The law also sets rules on the collection, processing and dissemination of personal information by state agencies. There were many requests in the first three years of the Act. In one well-known incident, a mother whose daughter was denied entry into an elite state school demanded the school's entrance exam results. When she was turned down, she appealed to the OIC and the courts. In the end, she obtained information showing that the children of influential people were accepted into the school even if they got low scores. As a result, the Council of State issued an order that all schools accept students solely on merit. Other information requests have resulted in the partial release of the government report on the May 1992 uprising and the release of investigation reports of the National Anti-Corruption Commission. Since then, however, interest appears to be slipping, especially with the media, who appear to use the act very infrequently. The Thai government proclaimed 2002 the Year of Access to Official Information. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in August 2003 called on citizens to use the Act to fight corruption noting "I believe 95 per cent of government information can be disclosed to the public. I myself have nothing to hide". Deputy Prime Minister Vishanu Krua-ngam said that the largest problem was the opposition of government departments: "Government agencies tried to buy time instead of answering right away whether the information could be disclosed or not." However, the government was strongly criticized for withholding information for several months relating to the bird flu epidemic in late 2003 and early 2004. Problems with the act include time frames are not realistic and need to be extended; enforcing decisions of the Tribunals have been difficult due to overlapping laws; Several of the ex-oficio members of the Commission frequently do not attend meetings; The OIC is part of the bureaucracy while the Board and Tribunal are independent. [Footnotes for this section are currently unavailable but will be posted the week of July 10. All footnotes and references are also available in the full study, available here.] 2004 Global Survey Results - Thailand



Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.