28 September 2012

Freedom of information advocates reflect on achievements on 10th anniversary

Press release: Freedom of Information Advocates Network

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, and the 10th anniversary of International Right to Know Day, FOIAnet has adopted the 10-10-10 Statement: Achievements, Challenges and Goals on the 10th Anniversary of the Freedom of Information Advocates Network (FOIAnet). The Statement highlights the ten most impressive achievements of FOIAnet, and the wider community promoting the right to information globally, over the last ten years, the ten main challenges we still face, and our ten priority goals for the coming ten years.

When it was first launched ten years ago, none of the founding members could have imagined that FOIAnet would experience such success and growth during its first decade. Its membership has gone up tenfold, to some 200 organisational members, and 600 people on its discussion list. Access to information held by public bodies has been firmly recognised as an international human right, and the number of countries with RTI [right to information] laws has more than doubled to 93.

There are also significant challenges. More than one-half of the countries in the world still do not have RTI laws, implementation remains a serious challenge in many of the countries that do, and there has been backsliding, in particular on exceptions and independent oversight bodies, in too many countries. A particular concern is the growing phenomenon of physical attacks on RTI activists, and reprisals against whistleblowers.

The challenges also define FOIAnet's priorities for the next ten years. High among these are the goals of growing the number of countries which have given legal recognition to RTI and the fostering of more robust implementation in countries that already protect this right. Building and deepening recognition of RTI as a human right represents an important opportunity for the RTI community. For FOIAnet itself, key priorities are sustainable management of its growth, providing support and solidarity to its members, especially when they come under attack, forging stronger links to support communities, fostering further development of regional RTI networks, and strengthening the funding base available to the network and its members.

We encourage readers to circulate this 10-10-10 Statement, and to support the goals of FOAInet by working with us for transparency and to deliver on our ten key goals.