A new global access to information initiative launched Monday to mark World Press Freedom Day, will test how easy (or not) it is to obtain information from 30 governments on their anti-corruption efforts.
The Tell us what you’ve done! Initiative, initiated by Access Info Europe and Transparency International (TI) is an attempt to verify whether governments are complying with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and other anti-corruption conventions.
Starting immediately, simultaneous information requests will be submitted in 30 countries by TI chapters and members of two coalitions, the Freedom of Information Advocates Network and the UNCAC Coalition.
The aim is to see how transparent governments are about their anti-corruption efforts under the anti-corruption treaties they have signed on to. Results will be presented in 2011 at the 4th UNCAC Conference of States Parties in Morocco.
“Access to information is at the heart of the anti-corruption agenda. The number of cases where power is abused for private gain uncovered by enterprising journalists, shows that access to public information is vital,” said Gillian Dell, coordinator for the initiative at TI.
Established by the UN in 1993, World Press Freedom Day 2010 is dedicated to the “Right to Know”—the right of all citizens to have access to information held by public entities. Although there has been a surge in freedom of information legislation, the UN notes that it is often complicated to use, prejudices minorities and not enforced.
“The right to know what the government knows is essential for journalists and civil society watchdogs to identify corruption and hold public officials accountable,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.
UNCAC is the most comprehensive global legal framework for combating corruption. It is a binding agreement ratified by 143 states on standards and requirements for preventing, detecting, investigating and sanctioning corruption. Over 80 countries worldwide have access to information legislation, a provision recommended by UNCAC, although effective implementation varies from country to country.
Participating countries—as of 2 May 2010—are: Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, Egypt, France, Hungary, Ghana, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, Israel, Italy Liberia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom and Venezuela. More organizations will be added.