Tuesday, September 12, 2006



International Right to Know Day was established to mark the founding on 28 September 2002 of the global Freedom of Information Advocates Network. In 2006 the 4th International Right to Know Day is being celebrated.

The aim of Right to Know Day is to raise awareness of every individual’s right of access to government-held information: the right to know how elected officials are exercising power and how the tax-payers’ money is being spent.

Activities Around the Globe!
In 2005 around 45 civil society organizations in over 30 countries around the globe marked Right to Know Day with activities that included:

(1) An all-day conference on current challenges to Freedom of Information.
(2) Release of reports by NGOs on different aspects of open government including secrecy policies, transparency of political finance contributions, and results of monitoring studies.
(3) Presentation of Awards
oAwards for institution with the best system of providing information
oAwards for best web site from the perspective of the access to information law
oAwards for a media outlet making best use of information requests in preparation of its publications and/or broadcasts
oAwards for best article/broadcast prepared on the basis of information received using an FOI law.
oAwards for NGOs that have contributed most to the promotion and protection of the right to information.
oAwards for a citizen who had exercised his/her right of access to information for the benefit of the community.
oNegative awards for institutions not fulfilling their obligations under the FOI Law.
oNegative awards for “the most ridiculous answer to an access to information request”.
(4) A public debate on openness between government officials and journalists/NGOs.
(5) Selection and dissemination of interesting news stories over the past year that were based on information released under the FOI law.
(6) Selection and dissemination of the most strange, stupid and/or funny responses to requests and refusals to provide information
(7) Selection and dissemination of the most shining examples of attempts by public officials to help the public with their search for information.
(8) Publication of a "Black List" of those public officials/institutions who impaired and infringed the right to access to information.
(9) Publication of posters, banners, cards, brochures, and pamphlets with "Right to Know" slogans.
A record of the Right to Know Day activities of FOI Advocates Network members can be found at www.foiadvocates.net.

What You Can Do …

if you are an NGO / civil society organization … hold an event, a debate, an award ceremony …. write a press release … hold a discussion with a local community group or in the local school … print up posters and t-shirts and hand them out in the streets … get people involved and, best of all, get them exercising their rights by filing request for information!

if you are an individual … file a request for information, write a letter to your local newspaper, ask your local town hall to put up notices telling people about the right to information, or ask them to put more information on their website … write to your local council or to your member of parliament and ask them what they are doing to promote government transparency!

if you are a teacher or pupil … have a discussion in class about the right to know and why open government is important … think of some requests you can file with your local authority or with a government body such as the Ministry of Education … find a local issue that you would like to know more about such as the quality of the drinking water or the budget for the sports centre and file requests for more information!

if you are a librarian or write an Internet blog … you already understand the value of information, so make sure you inform your members/readers about Right to Know Day!

if you are a journalist … write an article about Right to Know Day around the world and/or about local transparency issues … if you have never filed a request before using your national access to information law, now is the time to start, and then make a story out of what happens!

if you are an Information Commissioner … join in the publicity for the day by holding an event or issuing a press release … hold a competition that will encourage openness such as the best government website or the department with the fastest average response time for answering requests … publicize examples of information disclosure that has helped strengthen the relationship between the public and the government … send a memo to government departments reminding them that 28 September is International Right to Know Day and emphasizing that transparency is nothing to be afraid of because everyone is doing it!

if you are a public servant or elected member of government … ask yourself you are doing to help promote open government … find out what the department you work in is doing to be more open … think about how you can manage information better so that it’s easier to provide to members of the public … put some more information on your website so that the public has a better idea about what you are doing … and if your country has an access to information law, talk to the people in your department who are responsible for giving out information and find out what you can to do help them respond to requests within the timeframes established by law!

if you are still not sure what to do … take a look at the FOI Advocates Network website (www.foiadvocates.net ) for more information about what the members are doing and what you can do … we can also put you in touch with the local access to information organization in your country … and please, send us your reports and press cutting so that we can make our Right to Know Day Map as full as possible this year! Thank you.

No comments: