Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, participated in a panel discussion titled “Does the Italian FOIA work?” in order to examine the implementation of the Italian FOIA law inspired by the US Freedom of Information Act.
In her intervention Helen Darbishire argued that despite being a great advance for Italy, the the Italian FOIA falls well behind the international standards of access to information. According to Darbishire, the so-called Madia law presents two main obstacles to transparency: the exceptions to the law and the details of the law.
Darbishire recognized that exceptions are needed in order to protect privacy. However, she maintained that the abuse of the FOIA’s exceptions prevent us for effectively exercising our right to access to public information. Therefore, in her opinion, it is key to strike a balance between privacy and the right to access to information.
»Details of the law
Darbishire highlighted the importance of the FOIA’s mechanisms in the effective implementation of the law. In this regard, adequate time frames and non-paid access to public information are essential to fully enjoy the right to information.
Darbishire also claimed that for the Italian FOIA to be one of the strongest laws in Europe it needs first to meet the international standards on access to information. She recommended the improvement of the draft law in the following months in order to make easier and clearer its future implementation: “the more clear the law is made, the easier the next step will be”, she affirmed.
The other participants in the panel discussion were:
Ms Anna Ascani, Member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.
Mr Ernesto Belisario, Italian lawyer and author.
Mr Guido Romeo, co-founder of Diritto di Sapere (Your Right To Know).
More info and a video of the event can be found here (In Italian and English).