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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Proposed FOI Law reforms would limit access to much information of public importance.

Access Info joins OSCE in calling for withdrawal of amendments

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Madrid, 4 June 2013 – Access Info Europe today raised concerns that proposed amendments to the Law on Freedom of Access to Information of Bosnia and Herzegovina would exclude large volumes of information from the right of access to information.

In separating the freedom of information law from the law on personal data protection, the proposed amendments, in particular Article 8.2, introduce restrictions on access to data of clear public interest, such as spending of public funds on healthcare, or copies of court decisions.

The poorly drafted and ill-considered amendments would shut down access to information needed for monitoring public spending and the administration of justice, would limit the work of civil society organisations, and would hamper investigations by journalists,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.

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Regulation of Lobbying in Spain – Statement by Access Info Europe

foto_lobbyMadrid, 2 June 2013 - Today the Spanish daily El País published an article revealing the government's plans for future lobby regulation in Spain. The main highlights include the creation of an obligatory register of interest representatives, applicable to all those who undertake lobbying activities via-a-vis the upper and lower houses of Parliament. The article also outlines a series of ethics reforms such as the publication of declarations of interest by senior officials or stricter controls over conflicts of interest.

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Focus on Access to Information Laws essential for implementation of UN Convention against Corruption 

Lydia_Medland_UNCACVienna, 29 May 2013 – Access Info Europe today called on States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) to make strong mechanisms for access to information a priority issue. The right of access to information is a key tool for the prevention of corruption, yet there is no mention of it in the work plan of the UNCAC’s Working Group on Corruption Prevention.

 Speaking at the UN Convention against Corruption Briefing for NGOs today, Lydia Medland of Access Info said, "To fight corruption, citizens and civil society organisations need effective access to information laws which not only oblige governments to publish information proactively but which also give citizens the right to request and receive information held by public bodies."

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Mustafa al-Hawsawi Case

Information obtained by Access Info Europe as part of the Rendition project with UK NGO Reprieve, using access to information in order to get information on secret CIA flights, has been used by REDRESS and the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) to bring to court a complaint calling for an investigation into allegations that Mustafa al-Hawsawi was illegally transferred to and secretly detained and tortured in Lithuania as part of the CIA-led programme.

Access Info Europe together with Reprieve gathered data on flights associated with "extraordinary rendition" - the covert transfer of prisoners by the USA from locations in Europe the Middle East and Asia. Using the right of access to information to investigate the flights, the information on relevant flight data in 28 countries was acquired by the requests submitted to likely holders.

The complaint by REDRESS and HRMI was rejected on 2 October 2013. The NGOs are are appealing this decision in the Lithuanian courts.

Link to the article about Mustafa al-Hawsawi case on the Redress Website.

Global Rendition System Mapping

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Madrid, 22 May 2013 - Today, the “Global Rendition System” database and interactive map was launched by Access Info’s partners, Reprieve and The Global Rendition Project. Much original data included in the mapping was collected by Access Info and Reprieve in the Rendition on Record project, under which access to information requests were submitted to 29 countries and one international organisation. The Global Rendition System database and mapping has been released on the eve of President Obama’s major speech on counter-terrorism policy.

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