AIE_Proactive_Publication_Recommendations.doc - Access Info Recommendations on Proactive Publication If the only channel for access to information were

AIE_Proactive_Publication_Recommendations.doc - Access Info...

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Access Info Recommendations on Proactive Publication If the only channel for access to information were via requests filed by individuals, huge information inequalities would rapidly arise with different people knowing different things about the functioning of government, with large sections of the population remaining ill informed, to the detriment of society as a whole. Such a system would also place an intolerable burden on public officials who would have to strive to answer huge volumes of requests from information-hungry citizens. Proactive disclosure therefore levels the playing field for access to government-held information. Furthermore, proactive publication of information has numerous benefits, including ensuring that the public is informed about the activities of government, permitting accountability and participation, encouraging efficiency in information management, alleviating the burden on public bodies of information requests, and encouraging the reuse of information for social and commercial purposes. Indeed, for these reasons, governments have always made some information available proactively, well in advance of the recent advance of information technologies which have permitted the development of open data policies. The United Nations Human Rights Committee General has taking such considerations into account, and as well as finding that the right of access to information is a fundamental right, an inherent part of freedom of expression, in its General Comment 34 of July 2011, it stressed that proactive publication is essential to achieve full enjoyment of the right to information: To give effect to the right of access to information, States parties should proactively put in the public domain Government information of public interest. States parties should make every effort to ensure easy, prompt, effective and practical access to such information. i The Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents also includes general language recommending proactive publication in Article 10: At its own initiative and where appropriate, a public authority shall take the necessary measures to make public official documents which it holds in the interest of promoting the transparency and efficiency of public administration and to encourage informed participation by the public in matters of general interest. ii The Explanatory Memorandum to the Convention elaborates on the rationale for this, stating that citizens need information “to form an opinion on the authorities that govern them and to become involved in the decision-making process. National rules on proactive publication are thus encouraged.” iii The OAS Model Law, adopted in 2010, also contains proactive disclosure provisions and, whilst not a binding treaty, it sets a standard which is a valuable reference for the scope of the proactive obligation. iv 1
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The Recommendations: As a guide to public bodies and legislators, Access Info Europe has developed the following
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