Freedom of information laws by country

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"Freedom of Information Act" redirects here. See also Freedom of information and
"Access to Information" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Informatio
n access.
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Freedom of information laws (FOI laws) allow access by the general public to dat
a held by national governments. They establish a "right-to-know" legal process b
y which requests may be made for government-held information, to be received fre
ely or at minimal cost, barring standard exceptions. Also variously referred to
as open records, or sunshine laws (in the United States), governments are also t
ypically bound by a duty to publish and promote openness. In many countries ther
e are constitutional guarantees for the right of access to information, but usua
lly these are unused if specific support legislation does not exist.
Contents [hide]
1 Introduction
2 Legislation by country
2.1 Albania
2.2 Armenia
2.3 Australia
2.4 Azerbaijan
2.5 Bangladesh
2.6 Belgium
2.7 Belize
2.8 Bosnia and Herzegovina
2.9 Brazil
2.10 Bulgaria
2.11 Canada
2.12 Cayman
2.13 Chile
2.14 People's Republic of China
2.15 Colombia
2.16 Cook Islands
2.17 Croatia
2.18 Czech Republic
2.19 Denmark
2.20 Dominican Republic
2.21 Ecuador
2.22 Estonia
2.23 Europe
2.23.1 Council of Europe
2.23.2 European Union
2.24 Finland
2.25 France
2.26 Georgia
2.27 Germany
2.28 Greece
2.29 Hong Kong
2.30 Hungary
2.31 Iceland
2.32 India
2.33 Ireland
2.34 Israel
2.35 Italy
2.36 Jamaica
2.37 Japan
2.38 Latvia
2.39 Malta
2.40 Liberia
2.41 Macedonia
2.42 Malaysia
2.43 Maldives
2.44 Mexico
2.45 Montenegro
2.46 Netherlands
2.47 New Zealand
2.48 Nigeria
2.49 Norway
2.50 Pakistan
2.51 Paraguay
2.52 Poland
2.53 Republic of Moldova
2.54 Romania
2.55 Serbia
2.56 Slovakia
2.57 Slovenia
2.58 South Africa
2.59 South Korea
2.60 Sweden
2.61 Switzerland
2.62 Republic of China
2.63 Thailand
2.64 Trinidad and Tobago
2.65 Turkey
2.66 Uganda
2.67 Ukraine
2.68 United Kingdom
2.69 United States
2.70 Uruguay
2.71 Zimbabwe
3 Pending legislation by country
4 See also
5 References
6 External links
Over 90 countries around the world have implemented some form of freedom of info
rmation legislation.[1] Sweden's Freedom of the Press Act of 1766 is the oldest
in the world.[2][3]
Most freedom of information laws exclude the private sector from their jurisdict
ion. Information held by the private sector cannot be accessed as a legal right.
This limitation entails serious implications because the private sector is perf
orming many functions which were previously the domain of the public sector. As
a result, information that was previously public is now within the private secto
r, and the private contractors cannot be forced to disclose information.[4]
Other countries are working towards introducing such laws, and many regions of c
ountries with national legislation have local laws. For example, all states of t
he United States have laws governing access to public documents of state and loc
al taxing entities, in addition to that country's Freedom of Information Act whi
ch governs records management of documents in the possession of the federal gove
A related concept is open meetings legislation, which allows access to governmen
t meetings, not just to the records of them. In many countries, privacy or data
protection laws may be part of the freedom of information legislation; the conce
pts are often closely tied together in political discourse.
A basic principle behind most freedom of information legislation is that the bur
den of proof falls on the body asked for information, not the person asking for
it. The person making the request does not usually have to give an explanation f
or their actions, but if the information is not disclosed a valid reason has to
be given.
Legislation by country[edit]
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve th
is article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be ch
allenged and removed. (February 2010)
Rwanda The law Relating to Access to Information was passed on the 08/02/2013. I
t puts forth the purpose of the law, recognizes the right to access to informati
on, the procedures for accessing information, and compliance related issues.avai
lable at
In Albania, the constitution of 1998 guarantees the right of access to informati
on; the legislation supporting this is the Ligji nr. 8503, datë 30.6.1999, Per të dr
ejtën e informimit për dokumentat zyrtare (Law no. 8503, dated June 30, 1999, On the
right to information about official documents). This requires public authoritie
s to grant any request for an official document.[5][6]
The Law on Freedom of Information[7] was unanimously approved by the Parliament
on 23 September 2003 and went into force in November 2003.
In Australia, the Freedom of Information Act 1982 was passed at the federal leve
l in 1982, applying to all "ministers, departments and public authorities" of th
e Commonwealth.
There is similar legislation in all states and territories:
Australian Capital Territory, the Freedom of Information Act 1989[8]
New South Wales, the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009[9]
Northern Territory, the Information Act 2003[10]
Queensland, the Right to Information Act 2009[11]
South Australia, the Freedom of Information Act 1991[12]
Tasmania, the Right to Information Act 2009[13]
Victoria, the Freedom of Information Act 1982[14]
Western Australia, the Freedom of Information Act 1992[15]
In Azerbaijan, a Law on Access to Information was approved in 2005. It has gone
into effect. Previously in 1998 there was accepted Law on Freedom on Information
, but the Law of 2005 provided more detailed and secured regulation for access t
o official information.
On October 21, 2008, the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh issued in the Bangla
desh Gazette the Right to Information Ordinance (No. 50 of 2008), based loosely
on the Indian Right to Information Act, 2005.[16] The Ordinance was passed by th
e current government of Bangladesh in the first session of this parliament on Ma
rch 29, 2009.
Article 32 of the Constitution was amended in 1993 to include a right of access
to documents held by the government.
In Belize, the Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1998 was amended in 2000
and is currently in force, though a governmental commission noted that "not muc
h use has been made of the Act".[17]
Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]
Bosnia and Herzegovina (short: BiH), was the first country in the Balkan region
to adopt the Freedom of Informationan Act.Freedom of Access to Information Act o
r FOIA - was adopted by the Parliament Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 17
November 2000. Both federal entities - the Republika Srpska and the Federation o
f Bosnia and Herzegovina - passed freedom of information laws in 2001, the Freed
om of Access to Information Act for the Republika Srpska and Freedom of Access t
o Information Act for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina respectively. The
FOIA Act changed on the BiH state level two times. The first alteration was pas
sed in 2006, enabling stronger legal protection within the framework of administ
rative law of BiH. The second alteration was passed in December 2009, which enfo
rced legal penalties for prescribed violation's.
In Brazil, the Article 5, XXXIII, of the Constitution sets that "everyone shall
have the right to receive information of his own interest or of public interest
from public entities, which shall be given within the time prescribed by law". A
lso, article 22 of the Federal law nº 8.159/1991 grants the right to "full access
to public documents". A statute passed in 2011 and that will enter into force in
2012 (Federal Law 12.527/2011, promulgated on 28 November 2011) regulates the m
anner and the timetable for the information to be given by the State.
In Bulgaria, the Access to Public Information Act was passed in 2000, following
a 1996 recommendation from the Constitutional Court to implement such a law.
Main article: Freedom of information in Canada
In Canada, the Access to Information Act allows citizens to demand records from
federal bodies. The act came into force in 1983, under the Pierre Trudeau govern
ment, permitting Canadians to retrieve information from government files, establ
ishing what information could be accessed, mandating timelines for response.[18]
This is enforced by the Information Commissioner of Canada.
There is also a complementary Privacy Act that was introduced in 1983. The purpo
se of the Privacy Act is to extend the present laws of Canada that protect the p
rivacy of individuals with respect to personal information about themselves held
by a federal government institution and that provide individuals with a right o
f access to that information. It is a Crown copyright. Complaints for possible v
iolations of the Act may be reported to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
Canadian access to information laws distinguish between access to records genera
lly and access to records that contain personal information about the person mak
ing the request. Subject to exceptions, individuals have a right of access to re
cords that contain their own personal information under the Privacy Act but the
general public does not have a right of access to records that contain personal
information about others under the Access to Information Act. Each province and
territory in Canada has its own access to information legislation. In many cases
, this is also the provincial public sector privacy legislation. For example:
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Alberta)
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Manitoba)
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Nova Scotia)
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Ontario)
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Saskatchewan)
Act respecting access to documents held by public bodies and the protection of p
ersonal information (Quebec)
From 1989 to 2008, requests made to the federal government were catalogued in th
e Coordination of Access to Information Requests System.
A 393 page report released in September 2008, sponsored by several Canadian news
paper groups, compares Canadas Access to Information Act to the FOI laws of the p
rovinces and of 68 other nations.[19]
In 2009, The Walrus (magazine) published a detailed history of FOI in Canada.[20
Ambox current red.svg
This section is outdated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or
newly available information. (February 2010)
The Freedom of Information Law was passed in 2007 and was brought into force in
January 2009.
In Chile, article 8 of the Constitution provides for the freedom of information.
A law titled Law on Access to Public Information (Ley de Acceso a la Información
Pública) took effect on April 20, 2009.[21]
People's Republic of China[edit]
In April 2007, the State Council of the People's Republic of China promulgated t
he "Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Open Government Information
" (???????????????), which came into effect on May 1, 2008.[22]
The Colombian constitution grants the right of access to public information thro
ugh Law 57 of 1985 which thereby mandates the publishing of acts and official do
cuments. This is implemented and applies to documents that belong to official fa
cilities (offices or the like). Additionally there is the anti corruption statem
ent of Law 190 of 1955 also known as anti corruption act which in its 51st artic
le mandates public offices to list in visible area all the contracts and purchas
es made by month. The latter taking place slowly. A more modern law, the "Ley de
transparencia y del derecho de acceso a la información pública nacional" its at its
final stages.[23]
Cook Islands[edit]
Access to official information is governed by the Official Information Act 2008.
The law is based heavily on the New Zealand legislation.
In Croatia, the Zakon o pravu na pristup informacijama (Act on the Right of Acce
ss to Information) of 2003 extends to all public authorities.[24]
Czech Republic[edit]
In the Czech Republic, the Zákon c. 106/1999 Sb., o svobodném prístupu k informacím (Act
No. 106/1999 Coll. on Free Access to Information) covers the "state agencies, t
erritorial self-administration authorities and public institutions managing publ
ic funds" as well as any body authorised by the law to reach legal decisions rel
ating to the public sector, to the extent of such authorisation.[25]
In Denmark, the Access to Public Administration Files Act of 1985 applies to mos
t public agencies, and an unusual clause extends coverage to most private or pub
lic energy suppliers.
Dominican Republic[edit]
Hipólito Mejía approved Ley No.200-04 - Ley General de Libre Acceso a la Información Púb
lica[26] (Law number 200-04 - Law on Access to Information) on 28 July 2004, whi
ch allows public access to information from the government and private organizat
ions that receive public money to conduct state business. Rough drafts and proje
cts that are not part of an administrative procedure are not included.
In Ecuador, the Transparency and Access to Information Law of 2004 declares that
the right of access to information is guaranteed by the state.
In Estonia, the Public Information Act[27] of 2000 extends to all "holders of in
formation", which is clarified as being all government and local government bodi
es, legal persons in public law and legal persons in private law if they are per
forming public duties (providing health, education etc.).
In matters concerning the local, national and transboundary environment, the Aar
hus convention grants the public rights regarding access to information, public
participation and access to justice in governmental decision-making processes. I
t focuses on interactions between the public and public authorities.
Council of Europe[edit]
The recognition of the right to access to public information under Article 10 (i
ncluding "freedom (..) to receive (..) information") of the European Convention
on Human Rights was one of subjects in Guerra v. Italy case before the European
Court of Human Rights in 1998. The majority considered Article 10 was not applic
able to the complaint. However, the court found that in the specific case, which
included living near a high-risk factory, not providing information was in viol
ation of Article 8 (respect to private and family life). Besides, two judges exp
ressed a dissent on applicability of Article 10, and further six judges reserved
a possibility, that in other circumstances, right to access to information coul
d be protected by Article 10.[28]
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has considered in 1996, that
"public access to clear and full information on this subject [Chernobyl disaste
r]and many others for that mattermust be viewed as a basic human right".[29] In 20
09, CoE Convention on Access to Official Documents was opened for signature.[30]
European Union[edit]
Article 42 CFR and Article 15 TFEU give ?[a]ny citizen of the Union, and any nat
ural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State,
[...] a right of access to documents of the institutions, bodies, offices and a
gencies of the Union, whatever their medium." It follows from Article 15 TFEU th
at this right is "subject to the principles and the conditions to be defined" in
Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and the Council of 30 Ma
y 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission do
cuments[31] further defines this right of access to documents of the three insti
tutions; for most other EU bodies and agencies, there is a provision in the lega
l act establishing them which makes Regulation No 1049/2001 applicable to them a
s well.[32] In some other cases, specific rules apply (e.g. to the EESC,[33] the
CoR,[34] the Court of Justice,[35] the Court of Auditors[36] and the ECB).[37]]
"Document" is defined broadly and it is assumed that all documents, even if cla
ssified, may be subject to right of access unless it falls under one of the exce
ptions. If access is refused, the applicant is allowed a confirmatory request. A
complaint against a refusal can be made with the European Ombudsman and/or an a
ppeal can be brought before the European General Court.
In addition, Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of
17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information[38] sets out the rul
es and practices for accessing public sector information resources for further e
Since 2008, the European Commission operates the Register of Interest representa
tives, a voluntary register of lobbyists at the European union.[39]
In Finland, the Laki yleisten asiakirjain julkisuudesta 9.2.1951/83 (Act on the
Openness of Public Documents of 1951) established the openness of all records an
d documents in the possession of officials of the state, municipalities, and reg
istered religious communities. Exceptions to the basic principle could only be m
ade by law, or by an executive order for specific enumerated reasons such as nat
ional security. The openness of unsigned draft documents was not mandated, but u
p to the consideration of the public official. This weakness of the law was remo
ved when the law was revised in the 1990s. The revised law, the Laki viranomaist
en toiminnan julkisuudesta 21.5.1999/621 (Act on the Openness of Government Acti
vities of 1999), also extended the principle of openness to corporations that pe
rform legally mandated public duties, such as pension funds and public utilities
, and to computer documents.[40]
In France, the accountability of public servants is a constitutional right, acco
rding to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
The implementing legislation is the Loi n°78-753 du 17 juillet 1978 portant divers
es mesures d'amélioration des relations entre l'administration et le public et div
erses dispositions d'ordre administratif, social et fiscal (Act No. 78-753 of 17
July 1978. On various measures for improved relations between the Civil Service
and the public and on various arrangements of administrative, social and fiscal
nature). It sets as a general rule that citizens can demand a copy of any admin
istrative document (in paper, digitized or other form), and establishes the Comm
ission dAccès aux Documents Administratifs, an independent administrative authority
, to oversee the process.
In Georgia, the General Administrative Code contains a Law on Freedom of Informa
In Germany, the federal government passed a freedom of information law on Septem
ber 5, 2005. The law grants each person an unconditional right to access officia
l federal information. No legal, commercial, or any other kind of justification
is necessary.
Nine of the sixteen BundesländerBerlin, Brandenburg, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Schleswig
-Holstein, Hamburg, Bremen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saarland and Thüringenhave appr
oved individual "Informationsfreiheitsgesetze" (Freedom of Information laws).[41
In Greece, article 16 (Right to Access Administrative Documents???a??µa ???s?? d???
??t???? e????f??) of Law 1599/1986 (State-citizenry RelationshipS??se?? ???t???-p
???t?) introduced the right of all citizens to read most administrative document
s. This right is now codified as article 5 (Access to documents???sßas? se ????afa)
of the Administrative Procedural Code (??d??a? ??????t???? ??ad??as?a?), Law 26
90/1999. Under this article, citizens have a right to know the content of admini
strative documents. Administrative documents are defined as those produced by pu
blic sector entities, such as reports, studies, minutes, statistical data, circu
lars, instructions, responses, consultatory responses, and decisions. In additio
n, citizens with a legitimate interest may also access private documents stored
by public services. The right cannot be exercised if the document concerns the p
rivate or family lives of others, or if the document's confidentiality is safegu
arded by specific legal provisions. Furthermore, the public body can refuse acce
ss if the document refers to discussions in the Cabinet, or if accessing the doc
ument can seriously hamper criminal or administrative violation investigations c
arried out by judicial, police, or military authorities.
Citizens may study the documents at the place where they are archived, or they m
ay obtain a copy at their own cost. Access to one's own medical data is provided
with the help of a doctor. Access to documents should take into account whether
they be covered by copyright, patent, or trade secret regulations.
In addition, Law 3448/2006, on the reuse of public sector information, harmonize
s the national laws with the requirements on the European Union Directive 2003/9
Hong Kong[edit]
In Hong Kong there are no laws specifically enacted to guarantee the freedom of
Since March 1995, the Government of Hong Kong has promulgated a "Code on Access
to Information" to serve a similar purpose. This code, like other internal regul
ations of the Government, was not legislated by the Legislative Council and has
a minimal legal status. It requires government agencies listed in its appendix t
o appoint Access to Information Officers to answer citizens' requests for govern
mental records. A fee maybe charged prior to the release of information. The cod
e does not require the government to archive information.[43]
In Hungary, the Act on the Protection of Personal Data and Public Access to Data
of Public Interest of 1992 extends a right of access to all data of public inte
rest, defined as any information processed by a body performing a governmental f
unction. Complaints and contested applications may be appealed to the Data Prote
ction Commissioner or to the court.
In 2005 the Parliament adopted the Act on the Freedom of Information by Electron
ic Means (Act XC of 2005). The Act has three basic parts: 1. electronic disclous
ure of certain data by public sector bodies, 2. publicity of legislation and 3.
openness of Court decisions.
In Iceland the Information Act (Upplysingalög) Act no. 50/1996[44] gives access to
public information.
Main article: Right to Information (India)
The Right to Information Act (RTI Act) was passed by Parliament on 11 May 2005 a
nd was published in the gazette of India on 15 June 2005. It came into effect on
12 October 2005[45][46] replacing the erstwhile Freedom of information Act, 200
2. The Supreme Court of India had, in several Judgments prior to enactment of bo
th Acts, interpreted Indian Constitution to read Right to Information as the Fun
damental Right as embodied in Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression and also
in Right to Life. RTI Act laid down a procedure to guarantee this right. Under
this law all Government Bodies or Government funded agencies have to designate a
Public Information Officer (PIO). The PIO's responsibility is to ensure that in
formation requested is disclosed to the petitioner within 30 days or within 48 h
ours in case of information concerning the life or liberty of a person. The law
was inspired by previous legislation from select states (among them Tamil Nadu (
1997), Goa (1997), Rajasthan (2000), Karnataka (2000), Delhi (2001), Maharashtra
(2002) etc.) that allowed the right to information (to different degrees) to ci
tizens about activities of any State Government body.
A number of high profile disclosures revealed corruption in various government s
chemes such scams in Public Distribution Systems (ration stores), disaster relie
f, construction of highways etc. The law itself has been hailed as a landmark in
India's drive towards more openness and accountability.
However the RTI India has certain weaknesses that hamper implementation.[47] The
re have been questions on the lack of speedy appeal to non-compliance to request
s. The lack of a central PIO makes it difficult to pin-point the correct PIO to
approach for requests. There is also a criticism of the manner in which the Info
rmation Commissioners are appointed to head the information commission. It is al
leged by RTI Activists that bureaucrats working in close proximity with the gove
rnment are appointed in the RTI Commissions in a non-transparent manner.[48] The
PIO, being an officer of the relevant Government institution, may have a vested
interest in not disclosing damaging information on activities of his/her Instit
ution, This therefore creates a conflict of interest. In the state of Maharastra
it was estimated that only 30% of the requests are actually realized under the
Maharashtra Right to Information act. The law does not allow disclosure of infor
mation that affects national security, defence, and other matters that are deeme
d of national interest.[49][50][51][52][53][54][55]
In Ireland the Freedom of Information Act 1997[56] came into effect in April, 19
98. The 1997 Act was subsequently amended by the Freedom of Information (Amendme
nt) Act 2003.[57] The Act has led to a sea-change in the relationship between th
e citizen, journalists, government departments and public bodies. There are very
few restrictions on the information that can be made public. A notable feature
is the presumption that anything not restricted by the Act is accessible. Decisi
ons of public bodies in relation to requests for information may be reviewed by
the Information Commissioner.
One particular controversy which has caused concern to journalists and historian
s is that traditionally government ministers would annotate and sign any major p
olicy or report documents which they had seen. However this practice has fallen
out of favour because of the new openness. This annotation and signing of docume
nts has often given a paper trail and unique insight as to "what the minister kn
ew" about a controversy or how he or she formed an opinion on a matter. Also civ
il and public servants have become more informal, in keeping written records of
potentially controversial meeting and avoiding writing memos as a result.[58] Wh
ile this information would not often be released, and sometimes only under the t
hirty year rule, the fact that government ministers now do not annotate and sign
documents creates the concerns that while government is open it is not accounta
ble as to who did or saw what or how decision making process works.
The Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2003 brought in fees for making reque
sts for information and requests for review of decisions taken by Government bod
ies. As a result, one can incur a fee of up to 240 before even being granted acce
ss to information.
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In Israel, the Freedom of Information Law, 5758-1998, supported by the Freedom o
f Information Regulations, 5759-1999, controls freedom of information. It define
s the bodies subject to the legislation by a set of listed categories - essentia
lly, most public bodies - and provides for the government to publish a list of a
ll affected bodies. However, this list does not seem to have been made publicly
available, if indeed it was ever compiled.[POV? discuss] Many public bodies are
not obliged to follow the law, which limits the potential for use by the public.
The Israeli Freedom of Information Law has actually achieved the opposite intend
ed result.[citation needed] Government agencies now take the position that a cit
izen may only request information via FOILi.e., an official letter designated as
such and including the 95 shekel fee. Thus an Israeli citizen in many cases cann
ot simply write a letter asking a question, and can be asked to file a FOIL appl
ication with a fee and wait the minimum statutory 30 days for a reply, which the
agency can extend to 60 days. In many cases FOIL letters are simply ignored,[ci
tation needed] or some laconic response is sent stating the request is either un
clear, unspecific, too vague or some other legalese, anything in order to keep t
he information away from the public.[citation needed] When the 60 days are up, t
he anticipated result usually yield nothing significant,[citation needed] and th
e applicant must petition the District Court to compel disclosure, a procedure t
hat requires attorneys to draft pleadings and a payment a (approx.) $420 court f
ee. A judgement in such FOIL appeals in Israel can take years, and again the age
ncy can easily[neutrality is disputed] avoid disclosure by simply not complying.
There are no real sanctions for non-compliance.[citation needed] While there ar
e rare successes in Courts compelling Israeli government agencies to disclose in
formation, they are usually in non-controversial areas such as harmless civil ma
tters.[citation needed] The law provides for the expected[POV? discuss] "securit
y" exemption and an applicant applying for such information can expect not to be
nefit from FOIL (and also have his or her court appeal rejected). Applicants can
be helped by The Movement for Freedom of Information.[59]
Chapter V of Law No. 241 of 7 August 1990 provides for access to administrative
documents. However, the right to access is limited. The law states that those re
questing information must have a legal interest. The 1992 regulations require "a
personal concrete interest to safeguard in legally relevant situations." The co
urts have ruled that this includes the right of environmental groups and local c
ouncilors to demand information on behalf of those they represent. It was amende
d in 2005. The revision appears to adopt the court rulings and relax the interes
t somewhat to allow access when an individual can show they represent a more gen
eral public interest.
In Jamaica, the relevant legislation is the Access to Information Act, 2002.
In Japan, the "Law Concerning Access to Information Held by Administrative Organ
s" (????????????????????) was promulgated in 1999. The law was enforced in 2001.
In many local governments, it establishes the regulations about information disc
losure (??????) from the latter half of the 1980s.[60]
The Constitution of Latvia states: "Article 100. Everyone has the right to freed
om of expression, which includes the right to freely receive, keep and distribut
e information and to express his or her views. Censorship is prohibited." The ri
ght to access state held information has been repeatedly recognized by the Const
itutional Court of Latvia, most notably in its judgment "On Conformity of the Ca
binet of Ministers 21 January, 1997 Regulations No.46 "On Government Agreements"
with the 20 November, 1998 "Information Accessibility Law"[61][62]
The Law on Freedom of Information was signed into law by the State President in
November 1998 and has been amended a number of times recently. Any person can as
k for information in "any technically feasible form" without having to show a re
ason. The request can be oral or written. Bodies must respond in 15 days.
On the 1st of September 2012, Legal Notice 156 of 2012 brought the Freedom of In
formation Act (Chapter 496 of the Laws of Malta) fully into force, allowing the
public (resident citizens of Malta, the EU and the EEA) to submit requests for d
ocuments/information held by the Government. FOI requests are submitted free of
charge but processing of documents by public authorities may require the public
to pay fees which never exceed Eur 40. When access to documents is refused, the
FOIA in Malta provides for a complaint and appeal mechanism that can be ultimate
ly resolved through the Courts of Appeal.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed the Freedom of Information Act of 2010 in
to law in October 2010. Liberia became only the fourth country in Africa, and th
e first in West Africa, to pass such legislation.[63] The law allows both the me
dia and individual citizens to demand information from any public authority or a
ny private authority that carries out government functions.[64]
Article 16 of the Constitution of Macedonia guarantees "access to information an
d the freedom of reception and transmission of information".
The Law on Free Access to Information of Public Character was adopted on 25 Janu
ary 2006. It is scheduled to go into force in September 2006.The law allows any
natural or legal person to obtain information from state and municipal bodies an
d natural and legal persons who are performing public functions. The requests ca
n be oral, written or electronic. Requests must be responded to in 10 days.
The state of Selangor passed the Freedom of Information Enactment (Selangor) 201
0 on 1 April 2011, allowing the Malaysian public an access to the state document
s including that of local councils, city halls and state government-linked compa
nies.[65] Subsequently, the state of Penang passed the Freedom of Information bi
ll on 4 November 2011, allowing the public to access to state documents.[66] Bot
h states are under the ruling of the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat.
The Maidives passed the Right to Information Act (RTI) on January 12, 2014.[67]
The Constitution was amended in 1977 to include a right of freedom of informatio
n. Article 6 says in part, "the right of information shall be guaranteed by the
state." The Supreme Court made a number of decisions further enhancing that righ
The Federal Law of Transparency and Access to Public Government Information was
unanimously approved by Congress in April 2002 and signed by President Fox in Ju
ne 2002. It went into effect in June 2003.
A freedom of information law was passed in Montenegro late in 2005, after a proc
ess of several years.
Article 110 of the Constitution states: "In the exercise of their duties governm
ent bodies shall observe the principle of transparency in accordance with the ru
les to be prescribed by Act of Parliament."
The Dutch act on public access to government information entered into force in 1
980 and is updated several times later. Under the act known as the Wet Openbaarh
eid van Bestuur (nl), or Wob for short, any person can demand information (calle
d wobbing) related to an administrative matter if it is contained in documents h
eld by public authorities or companies carrying out work for a public authority.
The request can either be written or oral. The authority has two (on environmen
tal issues) or four weeks to respond. The act also obliges the government to pro
vide information unsolicited as it is in the interest of good and democratic gov
New Zealand[edit]
In New Zealand, the relevant legislation is the Official Information Act 1982. T
his implemented a general policy of openness regarding official documents and re
placed the Official Secrets Act.
President Goodluck Jonathan has signed into law the Freedom of Information (FoI)
Bill, awaited for 12 years by media proprietors and practitioners alike, during
which the Villa got knocks for filibustering and lawmakers complained of bombar
dment by campaigners.
The House of Representatives passed the Bill on February 24, 2011 and the Senate
dialled up integrity on March 16 as it delivered on promise to pass it.
The harmonised version was passed by both Chambers on May 26, 2011.It was convey
ed to Jonathan on May 27, and he signed it on May 28, 2011, according to a state
ment Aso Rock issued on Tuesday.[68]
Two states in Nigeria (namely Ekiti and Lagos State) have adopted the Freedom of
Information Act at State level but they have extended the response date at Stat
e level from 7 days to 14 days. We expect more states to adopt the bill and come
up with their own version. FOI expert and author of Nigeria Freedom of Informat
ion Act: A Practical Guide For Nigerians, Temitope Olodo, on BEN TV Channel 184[
69] told viewers that "the passing of the law was a victory for Nigerians all ov
er the world".[70]
The current freedom of information legislation was enacted May 19. 2006,[71] and
superseded the previous law of 1970[72] by January 1, 2009. Article 100 of the
Constitution gives access to public documents.[73] The basic principle of the la
w is everyone has the right to access to State and municipal documents and to be
present at sittings of courts and elected assemblies.
President Pervez Musharraf promulgated the Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002
in October 2002.[74] The law allows any citizen access to public records held b
y a public body of the federal government including ministries, departments, boa
rds, councils, courts and tribunals. It does not apply to government owned corpo
rations or provincial governments. The bodies must respond within 21 days.
More recently, by virtue of the 18th Amendment of 2010, article 19A has been ins
erted in the Constitution of Pakistan.[75] It gives the right to access to infor
mation the status of a fundamental constitutional right. Article 19A "Right to I
nformation" reads: "Every citizen shall have the right to have access to informa
tion in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable re
strictions imposed by law".
In Paraguay, a law protects habeas data, meaning that any citizen can request a
copy of publicly or privately held information relating to him, and can stipulat
e that any inaccurate data found be destroyed. This has been chiefly used by for
mer dissidents after the fall of the lengthy de facto dictatorship (19541989) of
Alfredo Stroessner. In 2005, efforts have been made to add transparency to purch
ases made by the Government, with a system that publishes bids on the internet a
s well as the resulting purchases.
Article 61 of the Constitution provides for the right to information and mandate
s that Parliament enact a law setting out this right.
The Law on Access to Public Information was approved in September 2001 and went
into effect in January 2002. The Act allows anyone to demand access to public in
formation, public data and public assets held by public bodies, private bodies t
hat exercise public tasks, trade unions and political parties. The requests can
be oral or written. The bodies must respond within 14 days.
Republic of Moldova[edit]
Article 34 of the Constitution provides for a right of access to information.
The Law of the Republic of Moldova on Access to Information[76] was approved by
Parliament in May 2000 and went into force in August 2000. Under the law, citize
ns and residents of Moldova can demand information from state institutions, orga
nizations financed by the public budget and individuals and legal entities that
provide public services and hold official information.
Since 2001 there is one law on Freedom of Information and one on transparent dec
ision making processes in public administration (a sunshine law).[77][78]
In Serbia, the Access to Public Information Act gives access to documents of pub
lic authorities.
Slovakia passed the Freedom of Information Act in May 2000 (Num. law: 211/2000 Z
. z.). Under the law, everybody can demand information from state institutions,
organizations, from municipalities, individuals and legal entities financed by t
he public budget.[79]
Slovenia passed the Access to Public Information Act in March 2003.[80] The Act
governs the procedure which ensures everyone free access to public information h
eld by state bodies, local government bodies, public agencies, public funds and
other entities of public law, public powers holders and public service contracto
South Africa[edit]
Main article: Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000
Section 32 of the Constitution of South Africa guarantees "the right of access t
o any information held by the state; and any information that is held by another
person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights." This
right is implemented through the Promotion of Access to Information Act, which
was enacted on 2 February 2000. The right of access to privately held informatio
n is an interesting feature, as most freedom of information laws only cover gove
rnmental bodies.
South Korea[edit]
The Constitutional Court ruled in 1989 that there is a constitutional right to i
nformation "as an aspect of the right of freedom of expression and specific impl
ementing legislation to define the contours of the right was not a prerequisite
to its enforcement."
The Act on Disclosure of Information by Public Agencies was enacted in 1996 and
went into effect in January 1998. It allows citizens to demand information held
by public agencies.
In Sweden, the Freedom of the Press Act of 1766 granted public access to governm
ent documents. It thus became an integral part of the Swedish Constitution, and
the first ever piece of freedom of information legislation in the modern sense.
In Swedish this is known as the Principle of Public Access (offentlighetsprincip
en),[82] and has been valid since.
The Principle of Public Access means that the general public is guaranteed an un
impeded view of activities pursued by the government and local authorities. All
official documents handled by government agencies are considered public unless t
hey contain information specified as secret under the Public Access to Informati
on and Secrecy Act. Each request to take part of official documents is handled i
ndividually and classifying documents or information as secret is is subject to
appeal. The constitution of Sweden also grants a right that government employees
may pass on information without risk of criminal charges or repercussions. Auth
orities are also explicitly prohibited from investigating leaks to identify info
rmers or whistleblowers.
Switzerland is a federal state. Access to federal documents is governed by the S
wiss Federal Act on the Principle of Freedom of Information in Public Administra
tion.[83] Access to documents at the cantonal level is governed by cantonal laws
, which are mostly similar to the federal law.
Republic of China[edit]
The "The Freedom of Government Information Law" (???????), enacted by the Legisl
ative Yuan of the ROC government in Taiwan, has been in force since 28 December
In Thailand, the relevant legislation is the Official Information Act of 1997.
Trinidad and Tobago[edit]
In Trinidad and Tobago, the relevant legislation is the Freedom of Information A
ct, 1999.
In Turkey, the Turkish Law on the Right to Information (Bilgi Edinme Hakki Kanun
u) was signed on October 24, 2003 and it came into effect 6 months later on Apri
l 24, 2004.
In Uganda, the Access to Information Act was approved in 2005 and went into effe
ct in 2006.
The 1996 Constitution does not include a specific general right of access to inf
ormation but contains a general right of freedom of collect and disseminate info
rmation and rights of access to personal and environmental information.
The 1992 Law on Information (since 2011.05.09 - new edition) is a general inform
ation policy framework law that includes, classification of information, a citiz
en's a right to access information, accreditation policy, information of public
interest and exemptions from liability for journalists.
Law on Access to Public Information was adopted 13 January 2011 and go into forc
e from 9 May 2011. It widens the range of subjects, obliged to provide informati
on, gives legislative definition of public information and makes public informat
ion accessible with statutory restrictions.[85][86]
United Kingdom[edit]
Main article: Freedom of information in the United Kingdom
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (2000 c. 36) is the implementation of freedo
m of information legislation in the United Kingdom on a national level, with the
exception of Scottish bodies, which are covered by the Freedom of Information (
Scotland) Act 2002 (2002 asp. 13). Environmental information is covered by furth
er legislation Environmental Information Regulations 2004. Tony Blair, the UK Pr
ime Minister who introduced the Freedom of Information Act, later expressed regr
et over the Act, claiming that the Act impeded the ability of officials to delib
erate "with a reasonable level of confidentiality".[87]
United States[edit]
Main article: Freedom of information in the United States
In the United States the Freedom of Information Act was signed into law by Presi
dent Lyndon B. Johnson on July 4, 1966 and went into effect the following year.
Ralph Nader has been credited with the impetus for creating this act, among othe
rs.[88] The Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments were signed by Pres
ident Bill Clinton on October 2, 1996.
The Act applies only to federal agencies. However, all of the states, as well as
the District of Columbia and some territories, have enacted similar statutes to
require disclosures by agencies of the state and of local governments, though s
ome are significantly broader than others. Some state and local government agenc
ies attempt to get around state open records laws by claiming copyright for thei
r works and then demanding high fees to license the public information.[89]:44142
Some states expand government transparency through open meeting laws, which req
uire government meetings to be announced in advance and held publicly.
The Act was enacted in 2008 under President Vazquez's Administration and is main
ly implemented by the Judiciary.
In Zimbabwe, the Access to Information and Privacy Act (AIPPA) was signed by the
ir President Robert Mugabe in February 2002.
Pending legislation by country[edit]
In Argentina, national freedom of information legislation is pending, though som
e individual regions have legislation on a local level. Such is the case of the
City of Buenos Aires.[90]
In Barbados, the Government headed by David Thompson has proposed to put in plac
e a Freedom of Information Bill.[91] The Government has launched various initiat
ives to vett the proposed bill with the citizens of the country for comment.
In Botswana, as of 2003, the government was quoted as saying "The Freedom of Inf
ormation Bill is not a priority for the new ministry, but some activities like i
nformation gathering and initial planning will start."[92]
In the Cayman Islands, the Freedom of Information Regulations Act 2008 is expect
ed to go into effect on January 1, 2009.[93]
In Fiji, the constitution gives a general right of access, but enabling legislat
ion has not yet been passed. A draft Freedom of Information Bill was circulated
in 2000 but derailed by political unrest; the government has not yet begun work
on a second bill.
In Ghana, the Right to Information Bill 2003 was resubmitted to the Cabinet in 2
In Indonesia, the House of Representatives drafted and submitted a freedom of in
formation bill in 2004,and in 2008 passed with the name Public Information Openn
ess Law.
In Jordan, there is a draft Law on the Guarantee of Access to Information which
was passed onto Parliament at the end of 2005.
In Kenya, the draft Freedom of Information Act 2007 will soon be tabled into Par
In Lesotho, the Access and Receipt of Information Bill was before Parliament in
2003-4, but the current status of the legislation is unknown
In the Maldives, there is currently no freedom of information legislation. In 20
04, the government announced that a bill was expected to be passed in that year,
but this has not yet transpired.
In Mauritius, there is currently no freedom of information legislation. In 2005,
the government pledged to enact a Freedom of Information Act but no legislation
has yet been passed.
In Mozambique, the government produced a draft Freedom of Information Bill in Au
gust 2005. It is expected to become law within two years.
In Nauru, the Freedom of Information Act 2004 was laid before the parliament in
that year, but was not passed. Further work on the legislation is currently bein
g held back, pending a review of the countrys Constitution.
In Sri Lanka, the 2004 draft Freedom of Information Act has been endorsed by bot
h major parties, but had not been passed as of January 2005.
(Unless stated otherwise, information is current as of July 2008).