Debate on Lithuanian Nuclear Power Deal Centres on Access to Information
It is unacceptable to shield a nuclear project from Freedom of Information says Access Info Europe
Vilnius, 22 November 2012– At a high-level debate in Lithuania (20 November 2012), Access Info Europe strongly criticised an anti-freedom of information clause in the public-private partnership agreement on the Visaginas nuclear power plant between the government of Lithuania and Hitachi corporation.
Access Info said that the confidentiality provisions represented particularly dangerous practice and risked stifling public debate around the important issue of nuclear power.
Spain is a world leader in Open Data. Says who?
13 November 2012 – In September 2012 the Web Foundation published the first edition of its Open Data Index, “a specific set of 14 indicators directly targeted at measuring open data worldwide”. Many open data and transparency activists in Spain were surprised to find Spain in the leading pack, since Spain still doesn't have an access to information law and there is no coherent national Open Data policy or practice. The only actively maintained Open Data initiatives are those started by a few local and regional governments, with no coordination or support from the national level. More importantly, key datasets about health, education, public procurement or official agendas are still being withheld by the administration,with no plan to release them.
The Debate on How to Measure "Openness"
9 November 2012 – In a public comment issued today, Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe and Toby Mendel, Executive Directorof the Centre for Law and Democracy respond to criticisms of the RTI Rating in the paper Measuring Openness: A Survey of Transparency Ratings and the Prospects for a Global Index by Sheila Coronel, Director of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism and Profesor at the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University.
The authors of the comment also raise concerns about the various global indices of "transparency" and "openness" and call for a more rigorous discussion about how to measure levels of access to information in practice.
update 12 November 2012 – A response from Professor Coronel is posted below the comment. Access Info welcomes this debate and invites other readers of our website to send us their comments.
The need for clarity on what we are measuring
Sheila Coronel's paper, Measuring Openness: A Survey of Transparency Ratings and the Prospects for a Global Index, is the first serious piece of research about the systems for assessing government openness which have mushroomed in recent years, alongside a corresponding growth in overall interest in openness. It is useful inasmuch as it provides an overview of what is being done around the world, and also in its analysis of the challenging question of the practicality and utility of a global or super index. It largely misses the mark, however, in its assessment of existing systems, mostly because it compares them to the idea of a super index, rather than against their own objectives and the functional utility they actually provide.
3000 euros for a request about corruption
Madrid, 29 October 2012 – Access Info Europe has been ordered to pay €3000 to the Spanish government for asking what it is doing to fight against corruption according to a decision of the Spanish Supreme Court which has ruled that the NGO has not right to ask for such information.
The decision closes a court case based on a information request submitted by an Access Info Europe board member in 2007.
The main argument used by the Supreme Court is that the request by Access Info Europe to the Ministry of Justice for reports on the implementation of the UN Con-vention against Corruption was in fact not an information request but that the NGO was seeking "explanations" from the government. In taking this course, the Su-preme Court avoided addressing the substance of the arguments about international law and jurisprudence on the right of access to information which Access Info Europe had put forward.
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