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International Right to Know Day Impact Stories


14th Annual Celebration Highlights Access Laws Across the Globe


FreedomInfo.org Posts Collection of Year’s Biggest Success Stories

 

Edited by Lauren Harper and Tom Blanton
Design by Rinat Bikineyev

 

For more information, contact Lauren Harper, 202.994.7000 or nsarchiv@gwu.edu


FreedomInfo.org, the National Security Archive’s sister site that is a one-stop portal for RTK developments around the world, has an extended list of this year’s RTK success stories here.


There are 113 RTK laws on the books – of varying effectiveness – around the world.

If you want a good idea of where your country ranks globally, visit Canada’s Centre for Law and Democracy Right to Information Ranking Project, which currently ranks the United States 55th.

Washington DC, September 28, 2016 – Today we celebrate the 14th annual International Right to Know Day by highlighting a few of the year’s most impactful news stories that were made possible by people taking advantage of right to know (RTK) laws around the world.

Some 113 countries have RTK laws on the books that allow citizens to request access to their government’s information. A sampling of stories - selected from a much longer list curated by Toby McIntosh at FreedomInfo.org -- made possible by people capitalizing on these laws includes:

  • India’s public records law revealed that thousands had contracted HIV through hospital blood transfusions, and attention from the story forced the government to pledge to improve blood safety screenings and introduce technology to ensure zero HIV transmission.
  • A Pakistani newspaper used RTK laws to show a dangerous lack of doctors in the Punjab, compelling the government to publicly promise to fill the vacancies.
  • FOI data released in the UK showed the extent of near-misses between planes and drones, and the government announced it would introduce new drone regulations in the Modern Transport Bill.
  • The Jamaican FOI law helped citizens hold the government accountable after a building collapse, prompting the government to examine the structural soundness of all building project sites and order developers to address specific issues at the project site before allowing building to resume.
  • Citizens of Malawi capitalized on that country’s RTK law to discover what had become of missing teaching materials, eventually forcing the fraudulent supplier to reimburse all of the stolen funds.


Empowered Malawi Community Fights Corruption in Public Works Program with Public Records Law

Source: “Enhancing Good Government ThroughCitizens’ Access to Information,” Africa Freedom of Information Center, 2016.

Result: After fraud was exposed public funding went only to legitimate beneficiaries.



Pakistani Newspaper Uncovers Lack of Doctors in the Punjab

Source: “No doctor in 284 Basic Health Units of 13 Punjab Districts,” The News International, July 13, 2016.

Result: Government pledged to fill vacancies.



Thousands of Indians Contracted HIV Through Hospital Blood Transfusions

Source: “India hospital transfusions infect thousands with HIV,” BBC, May 31, 2016. 

Result: Government pledged to improve blood safety screenings and introduce technology to ensure zero HIV transmission.



Teaching and Learning Materials Go Missing in Malawi

Source: “Access to information used to track non-delivery of Teaching and Learning Materials,” Africa Freedom of Information Center, 2016.

Result: Fraudulent supplier forced to reimburse all funds meant for the supplies.



In the UK, FOI’d Figures Reveal Near Misses of Planes, Drones

Source: “Drones in near-misses with planes almost once a week as pilots warn of 'unacceptably high' crash risk,” The Telegraph, May 23, 2016.

Result: Government announced it would introduce new regulations on drones in a Modern Transport Bill.



Holding the Jamaican Government to Account for Building Collapse

Source: “Gov’t, NEPA knew about Royalton breaches,” Jamaica Observer, May 12, 2016.

Result: Development Ministry examined structural soundness of all building project sites, ordering developers to address 12 specific issues at the project site before allowing work to proceed.



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