Confusion and lack of transparency mark process of adoption of Spain’s access to information law
23 May 2012 – Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría announced on Friday 18 May 2012 that some changes have been made to the draft access to information law based on the suggestions made in the almost 3,700 comments submitted during the public consultation, carried out between 26 March and 10 April 2012.
Precisely what these changes are, however, is not known because the new draft of the law, presented on 18 May to the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) has not yet been made public. Sources inside the Ministry of the Presidency (Cabinet Office) confirmed to Access Info Europe on 23 May that the draft would be made public as and when it is passed for comment to the Council of State and the Data Protection Agency, but that the process of forwarding the law is still “underway”.
The announcement of the changes to the draft was accompanied by the claim on the Ministry of the Presidency website that the process of adopting this law has been “an act of transparency in itself”. This claim is undermined by the lack of information surrounding the process. The government has not responded to calls from civil society to make public the submissions to the public consultation in order to check a promise in Spain's OGP Action Plan that the law would be reformed in line with the majority of the submissions received.
New collection of rendition data brings together records of hundreds of victims and shows involvement of 45 countries
Madrid/London, 22 May 2012 - A global repository of information on rendition and secret detention was launched yesterday (21 May) with a collection of records concerning hundreds of victims and 6500 rendition flights. Extensive data on rendition flights collected by Access Info Europe forms a substantial part of the information being launched by The Rendition Project.
The project, led by UK academics and human rights organization Reprieve, is the largest of its kind and collates all information about rendition currently in the public domain. All of the flight data released using access to information laws across Europe and North America has been made available on the website in original formats, including information released to Access Info from nine countries in the last six months.
Threat to EU transparency grows as trilogues begin on access to EU documents
Madrid, 11 May 2012 - The threat that the right of access to information from European Union bodies will be reduced moved a step closer to reality yesterday (10 May 2012) when the 27 Member States approved a document from the Danish EU Presidency which would add broad exceptions to the existing rules.
The 10 May document obtained today (11 May 2012) by Access Info Europe shows that the “compromise” position adopted by the ambassadors of the EU 27 includes:
• Limiting and narrowing the definition of a document;
• Limiting access to databases;
• Adding a presumption that transparency harms legal advice coupled with a severe weakening of the public interest test;
• New blanket exclusions for documents relating to investigations and documents submitted to courts by non EU actors (e.g.: private companies);
• New exceptions for staff selection and awarding of contracts and grants;
• Doubling of time limit for reviewing appeals;
• Providing access to only some documents in the case of request for a large number of documents or a long document.
Unfair business practices supported by government secrecy new report warns
Open Government Partnership countries score badly on promoting corporate transparency
London/Brasilia, 17 April 2012 - Private corporations around the world are benefitting from undue levels of secrecy around company registers making it impossible for the public to know how businesses are structured and who really owns them, according to a new report released today by the organisation OpenCorporates.
OpenCorporates’ report, “The Closed World of Company Data” finds that of 55 countries surveyed, the average score for public access to the company register is just 21 out of 100 points. The UK scored highest by a long way with 70 points out of 100, followed by the Czech Republic with 50 points, with the Slovak Republic and Albania (45 points each) also giving good public access to companies registers.
The United States scored badly with just 33 points and several of the world’s most important economies scored 0 points – notably Spain, Greece and Brazil. What this means in practice for members of the public is that even basic company data is not available without registering and often paying a fee to access even a single company record.
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