One step forward, two steps back: New Italian FOIA fails to improve adequate appeals mechanism

Madrid, 10 November 2016 – Access Info Europe has expressed serious concern that Italy’s newly-adopted “FOIA” still falls far behind international standards after an analysis of the quality of the law ranked Italy 54th out of 111 countries.

The pro-transparency organisation criticised the decree, passed in May this year, specifically because it weakens the appeals system by abandoning Italy’s Information Commission as a national oversight body.

Italys new FOIA forces requesters to go through the infamously-slow Italian court system in order to challenge non-disclosure of information, making it difficult to hold public officials accountable and near-impossible for citizens to participate in decision-making processes,” stated Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.

Following an internal appeal, the Administrative Court is the only option for requesters if information is still denied. Only at the local and regional level, including in cases of administrative silence, are requesters given the option of an oversight body – the local or regional Ombudsman.

Italy’s Anti-corruption Agency (ANAC) falls short as an effective oversight body given the lack of clarity over its increased number of powers in this decree. It is expected to coordinate efforts to promote transparency, further define the application of exceptions, and rule on cases where information should be published proactively.

The legal framework in Italy also fails to insist upon the need to apply a public interest test for all exceptions.

Those looking to expose corruption or hold decision makers accountable with this law, such as civil society or journalists, will not be able to carry out their essential watchdog role in a democracy, because so much information can be withheld without considering any overriding public interest in it,” added Andreas Pavlou, Campaigner at Access Info Europe.

A key improvement to the legal framework is the right of requesters to ask for information from public institutions without having to give reasons, which was not the case previously.

The “Italian FOIA” is due to come into force on 23 December 2016.

For more information please contact:

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

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