28 September 2009 - 7th International Right to Know Day


The 7th International Right to Know Day on 28th of September 2009 will mark a year of historic advances for the right of access to information and will be celebrated by the Freedom of Information Advocate’s Network which has around 200 organisations in 75 countries who are calling for universal respect for the public’s right to know.

The year 2009 saw the following advances in the right to access information held by government bodies:

- At least 90 countries and territories around the world now have laws giving members of the public the right to ask for and receive information from public bodies;

- Six (6) new national Access to Information Laws come into force: Bangladesh, the Cayman Islands, Chile, the Cook Islands, Guatemala and Uruguay.

- The European Court of Human Rights on 14 April 2009 confirmed that the right to receive information from government bodies is part of the fundamental right of freedom of expression and information and is necessary for the media, NGOs and others to play a watchdog role in holding governments accountable.

- The new Obama administration turned the tables on recent reverses on access to information during the "War on Terror" period and in January 2009 emphasised that obligation of government bodies to publish information proactively without waiting for requests for citizens - something which already a growing practice in many countries around the world.

In spite of these advances, the implementation of these national access to information laws in practice is hugely variable. International Right to Know day aims to raise awareness of the right and increase public demand for full respect for the right to know and the right to ask for information from public bodies at all levels of government.

Activities happening on Right to Know Day include:

- The Global Transparency Initiative will be holding an all day public meeting with the World Bank and leading speakers in Washington to discuss the transparency of International Financial Institutions, particularly the Bank itself.

- In Mexico a platform of NGOs will be holding forums to address social and legal questions of the right to know and where citizen’s needs are being met by the national law on access to information and transparency.

- In Bulgaria the Access to Information programme will be launching new documentaries addressing the right of information as well as holding their annual awards ceremony.

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