April 29, 2012

Access to documents relating to an infringement procedure concerning environmental issues (EU Ombudsman)

Case: 2073/2010/ANOpened on 28 Oct 2010 - Decision on 01 Dec 2011Institution(s) concerned: European CommissionField(s) of law: Environment, consumers and health protectionTypes of maladministration alleged – (i) breach of, or (ii) breach of duties relating…
Jan 28, 2012

Info czars tell Tories to place 'integrity' at heart of information reforms (Canada)

The Canadian Press Info czars tell Tories to place 'integrity' at heart of information…

Freedom of Information

One could not argue that Freedom of information laws are only as good as the response mechanisms built into the laws themselves, and as good as the efficiency of the appeal procedures. If citizens cannot take an action to enforce their right of access being “shy” of filing a suit, or do not have enough financial resources to do that, FOI laws cannot serve as an active “pushing” system for more transparent government.
Therefore, in order to ensure a culture of openness and to give citizens a right to access to information, adequate and effective appeal mechanisms must be in place. However, common for all types of appeals is that no enforcement mechanism can make public administrations accountable for lack of openness if they are not willing to abide by the recommendations or decisions made to them.

There are five systems of second-instance (appeal) decision-making when dealing with access to public information:

  • Appeal before the body which denied access to a document,
  • Higher Administrative bodies,
  • Court as an appeal body (directly) after the first level decision,
  • Ombudsman as a mediator,
  • Information Commissioner or Commission

Members of Information Commissioners' "community" are commissioners and ombudsmen.

FOI Quotes

"Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” -- Louis D.…