Central, State and Local Governments
Most ATI laws adopted by countries in the past decade – other than countries with federal systems – apply at a minimum to “government and administration at the national, regional or local level.” This language is included in Article 1 of the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents.
The laws of 25 of 26 European countries surveyed – all except Germany – apply to all three of these levels: Albania, Armenia, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Countries with Federal Systems
Most RTI laws of countries with federal systems or that grant considerable autonomy to sub-national government entities – including Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Mexico and the United States – apply only to the federal (central) government. However, the RTI law of a few countries with federal systems or autonomous regions are applicable to all levels of government, most notably, India, Portugal and the United Kingdom (not including Scotland, which opted to enact its own FOIA and establish its own Information Commissioner). Moreover, the federal laws of Austria and Mexico expressly require the state and local governments to adopt their own laws; this requirement was reinforced in Mexico by a constitutional amendment in 2007. Most states (or provinces) have adopted laws that apply to local as well as state agencies even in countries where not required to do so (e.g. Australia, Canada, Germany, the United States). What follows is more information about RTI laws in countries with federal systems.
You will find detailed country information that is not regularly updated in our Archive.