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Info Commissioners Consider Resolution on Transparency

Source: Freedominfo.org

Date: 5 October 2011

Information commissioners from around the world gathered in Ottawa, Canada, are considering adoption of a resolution supporting expansion of right to information laws.

The resolution also urges countries to join the Open Government Partnership.

The five-paragraph resolution was proposed by the German, Berlin and Slovenian commissioners. It is open for signature by the several dozen national commissioners are gathered for the 7th International Conference of Information Commissioners Oct. 4 and 5. It is the first time the information commissioners have considered issuing a resolution, as do the international privacy commissioners.

The proposal begins: “Transparency is an essential and indispensible condition for a living democracy.”

It goes on to describe the value of transparency before stating in the final two paragraphs:

The Conference of Information Commissioners is in favour of enshrining the right of information in national laws and of further developing existing rights of access to information. All states should above all have strong freedom of information laws which really and truly enable citizens to exercise the right to know. An effective appeal mechanism and its enforcement is of significant importance. The states and the international organizations should provide more information than before about their activities. The technical means are available for achieving this!

The Conference encourages states and international agencies to make greater use of the Internet for this purpose and to make information available in a proactive, structured and user-friendly way (Open Data0. The conference supports the Open Government partnership Declaration published in September 2011 in New York. All states that have not yet done so should accede to the Open Government partnership.

Legault Offers Suggestions

“We need to work together to advance transparency,” said Suzanne  Legault, the Information Commissioners of Canada,, opening the conference.

Legault outlines five factors to foster good access to information.

Timely legislative reform is necessary, recommending mandatory legislative review. Legault also said there needs to be vigorous and effective oversight.

She said supporters of access to information must “harness and leverage technology as it evolves.”

Legault advised that building partnerships is necessary, noting that there is strength in numbers. Finally, she said, leadership is necessary from the many types of interested stakeholders.