Access Info condemns slashing of World Bank’s Access to Information Unit

Calls for Transparency to be core part of future governance agenda

Madrid, 7 June 2016 – Access Info Europe has criticised the decision by the World Bank to axe its department working on access to information and called on it to keep promotion of transparency as a core part of promoting good, open government.

Access Info also expressed concern that the Bank is likely to stop work on developing indicators that can be used to measure Sustainable Development Goal 16.10.2 on the right of access to information, something that other bodies such as UNESCO had been planning to rely on in tracking this indicator.

It has been reported by Freedominfo.org, that the World Bank is closing its department working on Freedom of Information, letting go of the key staff – including Marcos Mendiburu and Luis Esquivel – who have led the Bank’s efforts to promote the right of access to information in law and practice in many countries around the world over the past few years.

Inside sources are reported to have indicated that the changes are part of a shift within the bank away from governance projects and back to “old-style lending”, with work on FOI, extractive industry transparency, parliamentary strengthening and citizen engagement likely to suffer, although with staff still being kept on in the areas of open contracting, open data, tax evasion, and flows of funds.

In a separate development, Access Info Europe has received an answer to an information request submitted to the Bank, which states that work on indicators for measuring Sustainable Development Goal 16.10.2 is likely to be suspended: “The indicators have not been finalized.  Further development will depend on whether there is interest from countries or other agencies in using them to help monitor implementation of Right to Information laws,” stated the response. Freedominfo.org has reported that WB staffer

Victoria Louise Lemieux who was leading the indicators initiative will also be leaving.

With access to information essential for anti-corruption and promotion of good governance, this move by the World Bank to side line FOI work makes little sense,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info.

The Bank is especially well placed to help integrate the right to information into governance reform and development agendas, and as such it should be making it more rather than less of a priority,” added Darbishire.

Access Info today signed a letter by initiated by the African Freedom of Information Centre, which urges to reconsider its decision and to strengthen the Access to Information Unit rather than downgrading it. You can read the letter here: alt

For more information, please contact:

Helen Darbishire | Access Info Europe
Send an e-mail or call +34 913 656 558

2018-11-13T10:04:10+00:00
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