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Events across the globe spotlight Right to Know Day

FOIAnet

Freedom of expression advocates across the globe paid homage this week to the Right to Know Day , marked each year on 28 September, by holding events and sharing information on why the right matters and how it's violated. ARTICLE 19 has also just launched the Global Right to Information (RTI) Index, and is asking for feedback on this tool.

In Bangladesh, ARTICLE 19 partnered with the Information Commission to offer a week-long programme, which includes training for public officials on international standards in RTI and national disclosure obligations, among other topics.

In Malaysia, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), called upon Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak "to make serious efforts toward enacting a Freedom of Information (FOI) law in keeping with his government's aim to eliminate corruption."

In Palestine, the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) marked the day by co-releasing a study with the Arabic Network for Freedom of Information called "The reality of access to information right in Palestine." The report recommends, among other actions, that the right to information be included in the draft Palestinian constitution and officials of public institutions be educated on the importance of RTI.

In Brazil, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) and Transparência Brasil grilled Senate candidates about their positions on RTI and released the results to the public on 28 September.

In Colombia, the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) launched a campaign on RTI in partnership with other organisations, who all published articles and columns on the topic in media across the country to mark the day.

Fortunately, there was much to celebrate this year, according to ARTICLE 19, which participated in events in eight countries, including Kenya and Mexico. Several countries adopted new laws or improved existing RTI legislation in the past year, bringing the number of countries with RTI legislation beyond 90. In another exciting development in the RTI field, the Organization of American States launched a model RTI bill that American and Caribbean states are encouraged to emulate. Also, the US and UK governments launched new open data sites this year that give citizens immediate access to comprehensive information on government spending.

ARTICLE 19 lamented, however, that more than half the world's countries still haven't entrenched the public's right to know in national legislation. Where legislation exists, security and secrecy laws are frequently used to lock down information on government wrongdoing and human rights violations. Also, several countries, including Uganda and Angola, have made little effort to implement existing RTI legislation in terms of providing public access to government documents.

Find out more from the Freedom of Information Advocates Network, a coalition of groups including a number of IFEX members, about information on Right to Know events being held this week in over 20 countries at http://www.foiadvocates.net .

To assist groups that are reviewing and making recommendations on RTI laws throughout the world, ARTICLE 19 has also just launched the Global RTI Index. The index includes 180 indicators of robust, pro-transparency information laws that state RTI legislation can be measured against. The index is currently online in draft form and freedom of information advocates are encouraged to send their feedback on the tool to ARTICLE 19 by 31 October.

Click here to read the draft Global RTI Index
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