Right to Information

Right to Information and Transparency

The resources on this Module explore the nature and extent of the right to information.The readings include standards on the right to access government held information, open court and open parliament.

10 items found, showing 1 - 10
Author: Transparency and Accountability Initiative
Media Type Icon

This guide, created by leading experts across a wide range of open government fields, compiles "the state of the art in transparency, accountability and citizen participation across 16 areas of governance, ranging from broad categories such as access to information, service delivery and budgeting to more specific sectors such as forestry, procurement and climate finance. Each expert’s contribution is organized according to three tiers of potential commitments around open government for any given sector—minimal steps for countries starting from a relatively low baseline, more substantial steps for countries that have already made moderate progress, and most ambitious steps for countries that are advanced performers on open government." This guide was published by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative with the aim of helping governments that are participating in the Open Government Partnership to understand international best practice for promoting transparency and accountability.

Transparency and Accountability Initiative. A guide to Best Practice in Transparency, Accountability and Civic Engagement Across the Public Sector. July 2011.

Author: ARTICLE 19
Media Type Icon

"As human rights, the right to information and the right to health are inextricably connected. This ARTICLE 19 policy brief examines the policy implications of states’ international human rights obligations relating to the two rights. The brief sets out the relationship between the right to information and the right to health, specifically examining how the right to information is relevant to the right to health; it examines the international legal frameworks on the right to information and the right to health respectively; it highlights the nexus between these rights in practice, identifying key features of a legal and policy framework and recommendations for the promotion of the right to health through the right to information which states should establish; it identifies particular issues concerning the protection of maternal health and, finally, it concludes with a set of recommendations directed at state and nonstate actors on the protection of the right to information and the right to health."

Parmar, Sejal, and David Banisar. A healthy knowledge: right to information and the right to health. Nairobi, Kenya: Article 19 Kenya/Eastern Africa, 2012. https://www.article19.org/data/files/medialibrary/3452/12-09-12-POLICY-right-to-health-WEB.pdf

Author: IACmHR, Catalina Botero Marino
Media Type Icon

This chapter addresses the thesis that under any circumstances, but especially in processes of transition to democracy, victims and their relatives have the right to know information related to serious violations of human rights contained in the State's archives. In addition, while explaining the different state obligations, it discusses the incorporation of those international standards in the case Gomes Lund et al (Guerrilha do Araguaia). v. Brazil issued by the Inter-American Court. 

OAS, IACmHR, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Catalina Botero. Access to Information on Human Rights Violations. OEA/Ser.L/V/II. Doc. 5. 4 March 2011.

Author: IACmHR
Media Type Icon

The report "endeavors to offer an initial account of the challenges faced by women in the Americas in adequately accessing State-controlled information on violence and discrimination. At the same time, it seeks to systematize the international standards that have been developed in the Inter-American system on this subject, and to identify good practices in the region with regard to the application of and compliance with those standards."

OAS, IACmHR. Access to Information, Violence against Women, and the Administration of Justice. OAS/Ser.L/V/II.154 Doc. 19. 27 March 2015

Author: Agnès Callamard
Media Type Icon

"This article will present the profound and real changes that took place in Africa, specifically in the areas of press freedom and free speech, particularly in the 1990s, but will argue that there remain much unfinished business and many unfulfilled promises, including stalled legal reform, limited media pluralism, and a lack of political will to move from the rhetoric of transparency to its reality. It is in this context that a global human rights recession has struck. This article will show that the observed global human rights setback applies with equal force to Africa. The setback has not necessarily been greater in Africa than elsewhere, but neither has it been less visible or less marked. In fact, in an environment characterized by weak political institutions and a nascent, and thus fragile democratization process, it is probable that this setback will take longer to reverse."

Callamard, Agnès. "Accountability, Transparency, and Freedom of Expression in Africa." Social Research 77, no. 4 (2010): 1211-1240. DOI: 10.2307/23347125.

Author: Agnès Callamard
Media Type Icon

"This article will present the profound and real changes that took place in Africa, specifically in the areas of press freedom and free speech, particularly in the 1990s, but will argue that there remain much unfinished business and many unfulfilled promises, including stalled legal reform, limited media pluralism, and a lack of political will to move from the rhetoric of transparency to its reality. It is in this context that a global human rights recession has struck. This article will show that the observed global human rights setback applies with equal force to Africa. The setback has not necessarily been greater in Africa than elsewhere, but neither has it been less visible or less marked. In fact, in an environment characterized by weak political institutions and a nascent, and thus fragile democratization process, it is probable that this setback will take longer to reverse."

Callamard, Agnès. "Accountability, Transparency, and Freedom of Expression in Africa." Social Research 77, no. 4 (2010): 1211-1240. DOI: 10.2307/23347125

Author: Toby Mendel
Media Type Icon

"Almost 90 countries around the world have enacted access to information (ATI) legislation, and in many of these countries, reforms and amendments are either being considered or have been passed. However, even minor adjustments to the legal framework around ATI laws can have substantial impact on how the law is implemented and used. In order to address the challenges of access to information reform, the World Bank Institute has recently published this working paper by Toby Mendel, Executive Director of Centre for Law and Democracy. The paper looks at the main substantive issues ATI reform attempts have targeted and what legal forms they may take. It also examines the role different actors—civil society, the media, oversight bodies, parliaments, and political leaders—can play in helping support the adoption of reforms that promote openness and defeat those that erect barriers."

Medel, Toby. Amending Access to Information Legislation: Legal and Political Issues. Washington: World Bank (June 2011)

Author: Lisa Chamberlain
Media Type Icon

"Many human rights have a dual value in that their realisation is both an important end, and a means to enable the realisation of other rights. The effective implementation of these kinds of rights is thus particularly important for advancing rights-based democracy. However, in practice, the implementation of such rights is often problematic. The article examines access to information and protest as examples of such ‘enabling’ rights. Drawing on the experience of communities and civil society organisations, it identifies and discusses some striking similarities in the way in which the legislation promulgated to give effect to these two rights in South Africa is being implemented, and argues that the problematic implementation of legislation is having the effect of thwarting these rights, rather than promoting them. Further, it argues that the existence of such striking similarities may point to a more systemic problem of civil and political rights failing to enable the realisation of socio-economic rights."

Chamberlain, Lisa. “Assessing enabling rights: Striking similarities in troubling implementation of the rights to protest and access to information in South Africa” African Human Rights Law Journal 16, no. 2 (2016): 365-384.

Author: IACmHR
Media Type Icon

In October 2000, following debates among different civil society organizations, and in support of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights approved the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression. The Declaration constitutes a basic document for interpreting Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights. In light of the importance of these principles, the Commission also published an interpretation of the principles set forth in the Declaration.

OAS, IACmHR. Background and Interpretation of the Declaration of Principles. 108th regular period of sessions. 2-20 October 2000

Author: Toby Mendel, Centre for Law and Democracy
Media Type Icon

"For many  years  now, an apparent  conundrum  has lurked just  beneath the  surface among European jurisdictions.  In  the Common Law countries – namely  the United Kingdom and  Ireland – full court decisions, including  the names of  the parties, are generally accessible  to  the public.  In  the  rest of Europe, governed by  the civil law, however, such decisions are normally published only with the names of the parties redacted. The apparent rationale for the former is the idea of open justice, while in the latter group of countries the idea of personal data protection reigns supreme."

Toby Mendel, Court Decisions in Georgia: How to Negotiate the Minefield Between Access and Respect for Privacy, Centre for Law and Democracy, March 2017.