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.
Global RTI Rating Website Update Launched
28 September 2012, Halifax/Madrid - Today, Access Info Europe (AIE) and the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) launched an improved version of the RTI Rating website. The new website contains updated results on all 93 countries with national right to information laws, searchable on various parameters, including total score and score in each category of the RTI Rating.
Serbia retains top position in the updated rating, with 135 points out of a possible total of 150, while Austria languishes in bottom place, with 39 points. AIE and CLD first launched the RTI Rating website a year ago, on 28 September 2011.
"There has been enormous interest in the RTI Rating over the last year," said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy. "It has stimulated strong media attention in the shortcomings of the RTI laws in many countries, while campaigners have used it to highlight weaknesses in proposed laws in other countries."
10 years of the Freedom of Information Advocates Network and Right to Know Day
Members of the Freedom of Information Advocates Network, a global community of over 200 civil society organisations, will be holding a range of International Right to Know Day activities, including the FOIAnet itself announcing prizes in the right to know photo competition and launching the 10-10-10 Statement on the past decade of advocacy: 10 Successes, 10 Challenges, 10 Goals. Access Info Europe are amoung the active members of the FOIAnet.
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