Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union

Query

Could you provide us with examples of good practice in access to information laws? What is the status of such legislation in the Arab region?

Note

This answer is also available in French.

CONTENT

1. Key features of ATI laws
2. Country examples of ATI laws
3. References and resources

SUMMARY

A growing number of countries have adopted ATI legislation in the past two decades. Most recent and progressive laws share a number of similarities and common elements, establishing a general presumption in favour of the maximum disclosure of information, subject to exceptions clearly defined by law.
Procedures for requesting information should be clear and simple, and information should be provided for free (or at a reasonable cost) and within a reasonable timeframe. ATI laws typically provide for internal and external complaint/review mechanisms to challenge refusals or when requests for information have not been dealt with adequately. The state should not only guarantee the right to information but also put effective systems in place to give effect to this right. Features of the stronger laws further include that they establish robust oversight bodies, often in the form of an independent information commission.
Serbia, India and Slovenia are assessed as having strong access to information regimes. In the Arab world, the adoption of ATI laws is still lagging compared to other regions of the world, with only Yemen, Jordan and Tunisia having recently enacted such legislation.

Authors

Marie Chêne, Transparency International, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Date

29/11/2012

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