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UN Human Rights Committee Urged to Investigate Violations of Right to Information in Spain

mordazaMadrid, 17 October 2014 - The UN Human Rights Committee has been urged to look into violations of freedom of expression and the right to information in Spain in a letter sent by leading international media freedom organisations.

This is the first time that freedom of expression organisations have raised the case of Spain before the UN Human Rights Committee. The signatories of the letter, coordinated by the International Press Institute, are Access Info Europe, AMARC Europe, Article 19, European Federation of Journalists, Free Expression Associates, Reporters Without Borders, and the World Association of Newspapers.

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EU Ombudsman urged to review European Commission's insistence on postal addresses to register requests for documents

altMadrid, 13 October 2014 – Access Info Europe is challenging the European Commission’s policy of demanding postal addresses as a precondition for registering requests for access to EU documents as part of a complaint being considered by the European Ombudsman.

Access Info Europe argues that Commission’s policy, adopted on 1 April 2014, of refusing to register requests without postal address interferes unnecessarily and disproportionately with citizens' ability to exercise their right of access to documents and is in breach of Regulation 1049/2001.

The issue of addresses was raised by the Commission as part of an exchange of views regarding the Commission’s refusal to register a request from an Access Info Europe intern because she did not give her surname, country, and “activity sector”, even though she stated that she was working for Access Info Europe, a legal entity based in the European Union working on human rights issues; she also stated she was a Swedish resident of Polish citizenship. The Commission nevertheless refused to register the request and Access Info Europe submitted its complaint to the European Ombudsman on 10 April 2014.

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Previously Secret TTIP Negotiating Directives Published

negotiatingttipmandateMadrid, 9 October 2014 - Access Info Europe today welcomed the publication by the Council of the European Union of the negotiating directives for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), following a long battle by civil society and MEPs to obtain this key document, and the opening of an investigation by the European Ombudsman.

Access Info noted that rather ironically, the newly declassified document states at Article 41 that "Nothing in this Agreement should affect EU or Member State laws regarding public access to official documents."

Indeed, the directives require specific proactive transparency on any rules and measures which will impact on international trade and investment, which clearly goes for the future TTIP itself as well.

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International Right To Know Day 2014: Working to promote transparency

irtkd_poster_2Madrid, 28 September 2014 – Civil society, led by the Freedom of Information Advocates Network (FOIAnet), is organising events on every continent for International Right to Know Day 2014 on 28 September, from activist and citizen workshops, to conferences on access to information laws, media broadcasts, and award ceremonies.

Freedom of information organisations and activists from all around the world will be raising awareness of every individual’s right of access to information held by governments and public bodies.

Access Info Europe is also taking action to join the series of International Right to Know Day 2014 events:

» Following Access Info Europe’s participation in the EU Roadmap to Transparency event on improving transparency and access to documents in the EU, organised by MEP Sophie In ’t Veld in the European Parliament in Brussels, Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, argues that the European Union should be taking a strong lead on transparency standards across the 28 country region of 500 million inhabitants. Read more...

» Access Info Europe has appealed to the Spanish Government for a more open and participative implementation process of the Spanish Transparency Law. The letter to Spain’s State Secretary José Luis Ayllón outlines a series of recommendations for the formation of the Transparency Council before the law comes into force this December. Read more...

» Access Info Europe will launch the new website; including the new widget feature and campaign pages to promote the public interest in information requested through the website, as well as a video for civil society organisations explaining how to use Read more...

All the information about the International Right to Know Day is available at the FOIAnet website including a map with events. The activities taking place will also be reported through social media, such as Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #IRTKD2014. See this pamphlet and be inspired by what can you do to celebrate!