Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

And the best FOI Law is........Mexico!

UNESCO has published the second edition of a comparative survey of FOI laws by Toby Mendel, the Law Programme Director with ARTICLE 19, the human rights NGO based in London. Mendel traces the development of international law concerning the right to access information, and uses uses a set of principles to assess regional trends and country specific access to government information laws in 14 countries( not including Australia). See 'Freedom of Information: A Comparative Legal Survey'.

The US and the UK feature as does Sweden with over 200 years experience in the field although the survey highlights some significant gaps and weaknesses in these systems. Policy makers here probably haven't paid much heed to the FOI law in Mexico, which on paper at least sounds a stand out. Some features not found in Australian FOI laws include:
  • right to information included in the constitution
  • applies to all public bodies including the legislature
  • the principle of transparency must be favoured in the interpretation of the law
  • failure to decide an application within the time limit is a deemed acceptance of the request and the information must be provided within 10 days for free, unless the independent review authority decides otherwise
  • fees limited to the costs of reproduction - searching for documents and decision making not charged
  • requests for information and responses themselves must be published
  • duty to publish electronically as a matter of routine 17 categories of information including subsidy programs, contracts entered into, and reports completed
  • civil servants who fail to comply or fully support the law are subject to administrative sanctions

No comments:

Post a Comment