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Member States' Laws & Papers

Only 17 out of the 54 Commonwealth's member states have their own freedom of information legislations: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bangladesh, Belize, Canada, India, Jamaica, Guyana and Malta (laws are not yet fully operationalised), New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan (only an Ordinance has been passed), South Africa, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda and United Kingdom.

The self-governing Cook Islands in free association with New Zealand, the UK overseas territory of Cayman Islands, and the UK overseas territory of Bermuda (not yet fully operationalised) also have their own freedom of information legislations.

A number of Commonwealth countries protect the right to information in the Constitutions, but only a handful have actually operationalised these principles through legislation.

Comparative Table of key provisions in access to information laws in Countries of the Commonwealth

Comparative Table of key provisions in access to information laws in Overseas Territories of the Commonwealth

Information Disclosure Policies of International Financial Institutions - A Comparison (Draft Version)

Click on the links below to view legislation, papers and links for each country

Status of the Right to Information in the Commonwealth
ATI Law-Fully operationalized
ATI Law-Not Fully operationalized
Specific Constitutional guarantee to ATI only
Constitutional Guarantee to ATI as part of Free speech and Expression only
No ATI law or Constitutional guarantee

Antigua and Barbuda

Bermuda*

Ghana

The Bahamas

Brunei Darussalam

Australia

Malta

Kenya

Barbados

The Gambia

Bangladesh

Guyana

Malawi

Botswana

Malaysia

Belize


Maldives

Cameroon

Nauru

Canada


Mozambique

Cyprus

Namibia

Cayman Islands*


Papua New Guinea

Dominica

Samoa

Cook Islands*


Seychelles

Fiji Islands

Singapore

India


Tanzania

Grenada

Sri Lanka

Jamaica



Kiribati

Tonga

New Zealand



Lesotho

Vanuatu


Nigeria



Mauritius


Pakistan#



Rwanda


South Africa



Sierra Leone


St Vincent and the Grenadines



Solomon Islands


Trinidad & Tobago



St Kitts and Nevis


Uganda


St Lucia


United Kingdom


Swaziland





Tuvalu





Zambia


* Overseas territory or associated country
# Pakistan promulgated a Right to Information Ordinance in October 2002 but no access legislation has yet been passed.

Constitutional protection of the right:Although many constitutions include the right to information as part of the formulation of the right to freedom of opinion or freedom of speech and expression, only a few provide an explicit, separate guaranteed right to information.

Legislative protection of the right:Some of the constitutional guarantees of the right to information impose a definite obligation on the national legislature to enact a law to enforce and implement the right (for example, South Africa). Legislation is necessary to practically operationalise the right. Without legislation, the limits on the right are unclear such that citizens will most likely need to go to court to determine the extent of their right.

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA[Go to top]

Law

Article 12 of the Constitution includes the freedom to receive information and disseminate the information within the ambit of freedom of expression.

In a speech on May 23, 2004 Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer announced that his administration was drafting Freedom of Information Legislation for public consultation. Subseqeuently, the Freedom of Information Act 2004 was passed."

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AUSTRALIA[Go to top]

Law

There is no provision in the Constitution guaranteeing the right to information.

A ustralia has a federal Freedom of Information Act 1982. Two sets of Regulations have been promulgated under the Act, the Freedom of Information (Fees and Charges) Regulations 2001 and the Freedom of Information (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2004.

Australia also has separate freedom of informational legislation in all of its States and Territories.

The Government of Australia introduced the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill 2009 in Parliament on 26 November 2009. It has since been referred to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee on November 31, 2009. This Committee is due to report its findings and recommendations on March 16, 2010. Meanwhile the Committee has thrown open the Bill for consultation. CHRI welcomes this gesture and has submitted a preliminary analysis and recommendations for improving the contents of the Bill based on its research and ground level experience of the implementation of information access laws in Commonwealth countries. CHRI's submission to the committee can be viewed here.

Along with this, the Government of Australia introduced the Information Commissioner Bill 2009 which establishes and provides for the appointments and staffing of the Office of the Information Commissioner among other things. This too, has been referred to Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee which is due to report on March 16, 2010.

The Government of Australia also enacted The Freedom of Information (Removal of Conclusive Certificates and Other Measures) Act 2009 which commenced on 7 October 2009. The Act repealed the power to issue conclusive certificates in the FOI Act and the Archives Act 1983.

At the same time as the AICA 2010, there was the FOI Amendment Act ( http://www.dpmc.gov.au/foi/foi_reform.cfm ) which reduced the time it takes for certain information to be openly available (open access period) and requires ministers and agencies to publish disclosure logs on their websites.

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BAHAMAS[Go to top]

Law

Article 23(1) of the Constitution includes the right to receive and impart ideas and information without interference within the right to freedom of expression.

The Data Protection (Privacy of Personal Information) Act 2003, has been adopted to regulate the collection, processing, keeping, use and disclosure of certain information relating to individuals. The Act has been passed but has not yet been brought into force.

The Bahamian Senate approved The Bahamas Freedom of Information Bill, 2012 in February 2012. The House of Assembly subsequently debated the Bill. CHRI made a detailed analysis of this Bill, including recommendations for strengthening the provisions of the Bill.

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BANGLADESH[Go to top]

Law

Article 39 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and speech, but there is no reference in the Constitution to the right to information.

Manusher Jonno prepared a draft Right to Information Bill in 2006 for consideration by civil society and the Government. CHRI has made a detailed analysis of this draft Bill and suggested areas which could be reconsidered and reworked.

Recently, the care-taker Government drafted a Right to Information Ordinance 2008 which is available for public consultation. CHRI has made a preliminary set of recommendations for strengthening the provisions of the Bill. CHRI has submitted a set of supplementary recommendations to the Drafting Committee for consideration.

The Council of Advisors passed the Right to Information (RTI) Ordinance 2008, 94 days after the ordinance was approved in principle. The RTI Ordinance has come into effect after receiving the President's assent on 20 October 2008. Please click here to read the Right to Information (RTI) Ordinance 2008 in English.

On 29 March 2009, the Bangladesh government headed by Sheikh Hasina of the Bangladesh Awami League enacted the Right to Information Act 2009. All organisations registered under the law of the land will be bound to provide citizens with information on matters of public interest. An Information Commission will be constituted in Bangladesh within 90 days of the act's taking effect. The Right to Information Ordinance promulgated in 2008 by the caretaker government will cease to have effect as it was not ratified within the specified timeframe. An unofficial English version of the Right to Information Act has been prepared. CHRI has prepared a note on the salient features of the Bangladesh RTI ACT.

After the enactment of the RTI Act in Parliament, the President signed it on 5 April and a gazette notification was published in this regard on 6 April. The Act came in to effect on 1 July 2009. Towards the end of June, the Government of Bangladesh formed a three-member Information Commission with former secretary M Azizur Rahman as the Chief Information Commissioner. The other members include former secretary Mohammad Abu Taher and Ms. Sadeka Halim, professor in the Sociology department of Dhaka university. After the retirement of M Azizur Khan in 2009, Muhammad Zamir has been appointed as the new Chief Information Commissioner of the Information Commission of Bangladesh in 2010.

The official English version of the RTI Act 2009 was notified in the Bangladesh Gazette on 29 October, 2009. The RTI Act in English and Bengali is available on the website of Ministry of Information, Government of Bangladesh at http://www.moi.gov.bd/. The Right to Information Rules 2009 (in Bengali) was notified by the Ministry of Information, Government of Bangladesh on 29 October 2009 followed by an amendment of the rules notified on 8 March 2010. The Information Commission of Bangladesh notified the Right to Information (Information Preservation and Management) Regulations 2010 (Bengali) on 3rd November 2010. An unofficial translation of these regulations into English has been prepared.

The name & address of Information Commission Bangladesh are given below:
Muhammad Zamir, Chief Information Commissioner: Archaeology Bhaban (3rd floor), F-4/A, Agargaon Administrative Area, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka – 1207; Ph: +88-02-9110407; Fax: +88-02-9110638
Abu Taher, Information Commissioner: Contact details are same as above
Prof. Sadeka Halim, Information Commissioner: Ph: 88-02-9110675; Cell: +88-01711-538560; Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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BARBADOS[Go to top]

Law

Section 20(1) of the Constitution includes the freedom to receive and communicate ideas and information without interference as part of the right to freedom of expression.

Recently, the Barbados Government drafted a Freedom of Information Act 2008, which is available for public consultation. CHRI has made a preliminary set of recommendations for strengthening the provisions of the Bill, and has additionally submitted a revised Bill incorporating these recommendations.

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BELIZE[Go to top]

Law

Section 12(1) of the Constitution includes the freedom to receive and communicate ideas and information without interference as part of the right to freedom of expression.

The Freedom of Information Act 1994implements the constitutional right to information. It does not appear that Rules have been passed in support of the Act.

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Bermuda (UK Overseas Territory) [Go to top]

The Constitution of the Bermuda, includes the “freedom . . . to receive and impart ideas and information without interference” as part of the protection of freedom of expression (Art. 9). Bermuda enacted the Public Access to Information Act in August, 2010.

The Act has not yet become operational. On July 31, 2011, Premier Paula Cox promised the Act would become operational in the second half of 2012.

A discussion paper on Public Access to Information 2005 (PATI) was presented to the legislature by the Premier W. Alexander Scott.

Articles

BOTSWANA[Go to top]

Law

Section 12 of the Constitution includes the freedom to receive and communicate ideas and information without interference as part of the right to freedom of expression.

A draft Bill was brought before Parliament on 8 July, 2010. However, it has been suggested that the draft Bill falls short of international and regional standards, particularly in its failure to provide any mechanisms which would support the implementation of the law. “A private member's bill on Freedom of Information was presented in by Dumelang Saleshandoo, MP in the Parliament of Botswana. CHRI has provided preliminary comments for the same.”

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BRUNEI DARUSSALAM[Go to top]

Law

Bruneii Darussalam is a monarchical state with no Constitution. There is therefore no constitutional guarantee of the right to information. There is also no access to information legislation.

Articles

To be posted.

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CAMEROON[Go to top]

Law

The Constitution endorses the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Charter and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights. As such, Article 19 of the UDHR which recognises the right to receive and impart information as part of the right to freedom of expression applies.

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CANADA[Go to top]

Law

The Canadian Constitution does not contain an explicit provision regarding the right to information. Section 2(b) of the Consitution Act 1982, which includes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, upholds the right to freedom of speech, freedom of press and media of communication. The Supreme Court of Canada has interpreted this section to include and guarantee the right to access to information, most notably in the case of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation v New Brunswick [1996] 3 S.C.R.

Canada has a federal Access to Information Act 1983 (ATI Act), which is supported by Access to Information Rules (SOR/83-507). In 2005, the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics considered how the ATI Act could be improved. The Federal Information Commissioner submitted Amendments to the ATI Act for consideration. In 2005, Gomery Commission, set up to investigate a major government scandal, also considered how to strengthen the ATI Act. Chapter 10 of the Report of the Gomery Commission captures the Commission's recommendations re improving the ATI Act.

Canada also has separate freedom of informational legislation in most of its Provinces and Territories.

See also:

Policies & Articles

Links

CAYMAN ISLANDS[Go to top]

Law

The Constitution of the Cayman Islands, which came into force on November 6, 2009, requires the enactment of a law to “provide for a right of access to information held by public authorities” (Art. 122), and protects the right to expression, which includes the right to “receive and impart ideas and information without interference” (Art. 11). The Cayman Islands enacted the Freedom of Information Law on October 19, 2007, which came into force on January 5, 2009.

A review of the Law was legally mandated to be completed by July 2010. The subcommittee charged with the review requested public input for the review in April 2011, and the Information Commissioner submitted a report and position paper to the subcommittee with recommended changes to the law at that time. As of August 1, 2011, the review is not yet complete.

From the date the Act came into force on January 5, 2009 until September 25, 2011, public authorities received over 1800 requests, and granted requests in full or in part in 50% of the cases.

A draft Freedom of Information Bill was first released for public consultation in November 2005. At this time, CHRI submitted a detailed CHRI critique of the draft FOI Bill 2005 to the Government. In order to operationalize the law, the government notified general regulations, as well as regulations for the Information Commissioner.

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COOK ISLANDS [Go to top]

Law

The Constitution of the Cook Islands includes “[f]reedom of speech and expression” (Art. 64(1)(d)), but has no reference to the right to information. Cook Islands enacted their Official Information Act in 2008, and it came into force in February 2009.

Cook Islands based their Official Information Act heavily on New Zealand’s Official Information Act. However, Cook Island’s Act also provides for the appointment of an Independent Consultant whose duties include monitoring the implementation of the Act and investigating problems with accessing or publishing information.

Articles

To be posted.

CYPRUS[Go to top]

Law

Article 19(2) of the Constitution includes the freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart information and ideas without interference by any public authority and regardless of frontiers as part of the right to freedom of speech and expression.

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DOMINICA[Go to top]

Law

Section 10 of the Constitution includes the freedom to receive ideas and information without interference freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference as part of the right to freedom of expression.

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FIJI ISLANDS[Go to top]

Law

Article 30(1) of the Constitution includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas as part of the right to freedom of expression. Article 174 explicitly requires that Parliament should enact a law to give members of the public the right to access official documents of the Government and its agencies, as soon as practicable after the commencement of the Constitution. The Public Records Act [Cap 108] sets out the framework for archiving and accessing archived public documents.

In 2000, the Fijian Labour Party (which at that time formed the Government) issued an Exposure Draft Freedom of Information Bill. The Bill lapsed following the coup in May 2000. In September 2004, a civil society organization known as the Citizens Constitutional Forum launched a Freedom of Information Bill 2004 and a Freedom of Information Discussion Paper, to be used as a basis for discussion by civil society and the Government. The Government advised that plans for FOI legislation were included on its 2004 legislative agenda, but did not produce a draft law for discussion.

In December 2006, a military coup overthrew the Government and a Military "Interim Government" still holds power. Fiji has been suspended from the Commonwealth until the restoration of democracy and the rule of law occurs. The Interim Government has made several promises to put in place a freedom of information regime, and included this promise in its "Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress". Work on the Charter itself has been halted by the Fijian High Court, pending a decision on whether it would violate the Constitution.

The President of Fiji suspended the Constitution in April 2009. The Prime Minister stated after the suspension of the Constitution in 2009 that freedom of information would be introduced by decree, however as of May 24, 2011, the Government has made no such decree.

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THE GAMBIA[Go to top]

Law

Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees a list of rights and freedoms, but there is no reference to the right to information.

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GHANA[Go to top]

Law

Article 21(1)(f) of the Constitution explicitly recognises that all persons shall have the right to information, subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society.

The Freedom of Information Bill has been drafted but has not been passed by parliament. A Revised version of the RTI Bill was released for Public Consultation in 2008. CHRI submitted a detailed analysis and recommendations for strengthening the provisions of the Revised Bill.

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GRENADA[Go to top]

Law

Article 10 of the Constitution includes the freedom to receive and communicate ideas and information without interference as part of the right to freedom of expression.

Articles

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To be posted.

 

GUYANA[Go to top]

Law

Article 146 of the Constitution includes the freedom to receive and communicate ideas and information without interference as part of the right to freedom of expression.

A draft Freedom of Information Bill was developed by the opposition Alliance for Change Party. CHRI produced a Detailed Analysis of the Draft FOI Bill, suggesting areas which could be reconsidered and amended. As a result of CHRI's analysis, the Alliance for Change updated the draft Bill and submitted a final Freedom of Information Bill to Parliament.

In September 2011, the Guyana Parliament passed an Access to Information Act which was tabled in June 2011.

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INDIA[Go to top]

Law

Article 19 of the Constitution which upholds the right to freedom of speech and expression, has been interpreted by the Supreme Court of India to implicitly include the right to receive and impart information. The national Freedom of Information Act 2002 was passed in December 2002 and received Presidential assent in January 2003. However, a date for the Act to come into force was never notified, such that it never actually became operational.

Following a national campaign to amend or at least enforce the national FOI law (click here for more background on the campaign), in May 2005 the national Right to Information Act 2005 was passed by Parliament. It received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005 and came into full force on 12 October 2005 (click here for more). A number of States also have separate legislation, but it is understood that these Acts will be repealed to make way for the new national Act.

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JAMAICA[Go to top]

Law

Article 22 of the Constitution includes the freedom to receive and impart ideas and information without interference as part of the freedom of expression.

Jamaica also has an Access to Information Act 2002 which implements the constitutionally guaranteed right to information. In 2003, Jamaica passed Access to Information Regulations.

The reports received by ATI Unit of Jamaica indicate that 552 ATI requests were made in 2009 alone. This figure is only represents the number of requests received by 28 of the total 216 agaencies covered by the ATI law. The Unit says it is working on improving the reporting of the other agencies.

Damian Cox, head of the Unit, shared that with additional enhancements to their website beginning January 2011, the Unit will be updating the statistical information available on the website.

Access to Informations Unit, Jamaica, may be contacted at:
Access to Information Unit
Information & Telecommunications Department
Office of the Prime Minister
5-9 South Odeon Avenue
Kingston 10

Tel: (876) 968-3166/(876) 968-8282
Fax: (876) 926-9491
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: www.ati.gov.jm

In July 2010, Jamaica debated the Protected Disclosures Bill, 2010 (the Bill), in the Joint select committee of the Govt. of Jamaica. The Bill aims to protect employees who blow the whistle on wrongdoing that has occurred or is likely to occur within the public bodies that have employed them. CHRI submitted a preliminary analysis of the Bill with recommendations for improving certain provisions in order to make the law more effective in dealing with protected disclosures.

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KENYA[Go to top]

Law

The 2010 Constitution of Kenya, promulgated on August 28, 2010, recognizes “the right of access to information held by the State” (Art. 35). There is currently no right to information legislation in Kenya.

In 1999, ICJ-Kenya published a draft Freedom of Information Bill 1999, but it was not taken up by the Government. The Bill was revived in 2005, and a revised draft Freedom of Information Bill 2006 produced by the Kenya FOI Coalition (of which ICJ-Kenya is a member) was published.

In April 2007, the Government of Kenya released its draft Freedom of Information Policy and a draft Freedom of Information Bill 2007 for stakeholder comment. CHRI has made a detailed analysis of the draft Bill and Policy Paper and suggested areas which could be reconsidered and reworked.

Though Kenya's draft Bill is still pending, in January 2011 the country made a step toward transparency by launching an Open Data Portal, which allows public online access to government data. Kenya is the first African country to make government information available to citizens through online access.

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KIRIBATI[Go to top]

Law

Article 12 of the Constitution includes the freedom to receive and communicate ideas and information without interference as part of the right to freedom of expression.

Articles

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LESOTHO[Go to top]

Law

Article 14 of the Constitution includes the right to receive and communicate information and ideas and information without interference as part of the right to freedom of expression.

The Lesotho Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa prepared a draft Access and Receipt of Information Bill for consideration by civil society and the Government. CHRI has made a detailed analysis of this draft Bill and suggested areas which could be reconsidered and reworked.

Articles

To be posted.

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MALAWI[Go to top]

Law

Article 37 of the Constitution explicitly guarantees the right to access all information held by the state or any of its organs at any level of government in so far as it is required for the exercise of a person's rights.

The Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa prepared a draft Access to Information Bill in 2003 for consideration by civil society and the Government. CHRI has made a detailed analysis of this draft Bill and suggested areas which could be reconsidered and reworked

Articles

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MALAYSIA[Go to top]

Law

Article 10 of the Constitution recognises the right to freedom of speech and expression, but there is no reference in the Constitution to the right to information.

In 2006, the Malaysian Freedom of Information Advocates Coalition drafted a Right to Information Bill for the state of Kelantan. CHRI has made a detailed analysis of this draft Bill and suggested areas which could be reconsidered and reworked.

On 1st April, 2011 the Government of Selangor enacted the Selangor Freedom of Information Enactment 2010 making it the first state in Malaysia to have a Freedom of Information Law. The Freedom of Information (State of Selangor) Bill was first tabled in the Selagor Parliament by the Government of Selangor in July 2010. CHRI made a detailed analysis of this draft Bill along with recommendations for change and a summary of analysis.

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MALDIVES[Go to top]

Law

Article 29 of the Constitution of Maldives states that everyone has the freedom to acquire and impart knowledge, information and learning.

In 2007, the Government of Maldives led by the then President Mamoon Abdul Gayoom tabled the Freedom of Information Bill in the Majlis (Parliament) to provide for an information access regime in the country. The bill failed to become a law as it fell short of one vote in the Parliament. Later in May 2008 the Government instituted the Right to Information Regulations by executive order making it mandatory for government departments to provide people access to information about their working. The Government gave itself a lead time of eight months to prepare for the implementation of these Regulations which were to come into force in January 2009.

In November 2009, the Government of Maldives tabled a Right to Information Bill in the Parliament. The English version of the bill can be found here. The bill is pending with the Social Affairs committee. CHRI has made a preliminary analysis of the bill and have provided recommendations for improvement.

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MALTA[Go to top]

Law

Section 41 of the Constitution includes the right to receive and communicate ideas and information without interference as part of the right to freedom of expression. Malta adopted its Freedom of Information Act in 2008 however, as of May 17, 2011, the Act has not yet come into force.

The Government published a notice in the Government Gazette of Malta that established August 1, 2010 as the date the Act would come fully into force. The Government claims there have been delays because training civil servants in RTI is “a laborious and complex exercise.” The Government of Malta has not given a firm deadline for the proper implementation of the Act.

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MAURITIUS[Go to top]

Law

Article 12 of the Constitution includes the right to receive and impart ideas and information without interference as part of the right to freedom of expression.

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MOZAMBIQUE[Go to top]

Law

Article 48(1) of the Constitution explicitly recognises the right to information. Every citizen has the right to inform him/herself and be informed about revelant facts and opinions, at the national and international level, as well as to disseminate information, opinions and ideas through the press.

In 2004, a draft Access to Sources of Information Bill 2003 was produced by the Mozambique chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, but it was not taken up by the Government. In 2005, the Bill was revised with drafting support from CHRI and a new civil society Draft Law on the Right to Information 2005 was produced.

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NAMIBIA[Go to top]

Law

Article 21 of the Constitution recognises the right to freedom of expression, but there is no reference in the Constitution to the right to information.

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NAURU[Go to top]

Law

Article 12 of the Constitution recognises the right to freedom of expression, but there is no reference in the Constitution to the right to information.

In 2005, the Nauru Constitutional Review Commission undertook public consultation and received submissions on proposed amendments to the Nauru Constitution. The Commission made its recommendations in its final report released in February 2007. One of the recommendations made is to include the right to information as an explicit right in the Constitution of Nauru.

The Constitutional Convention is now considering the recommendations and its decision is expected to be given to Parliament in mid-2007.

A referendum was held on 27 February, 2010 to amend, among other things, the constitutional guarantee of right to information in Nauru. The Referendum Amendments, however, were voted against by the people of Nauru.

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NEW ZEALAND[Go to top]

Law

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, which is part of New Zealand’s uncodified constitution, includes the “freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form (Art. 14). The Official Information Act 1982 legislates for the right to access information. It does not appear that Rules have been passed in support of the Act.

The Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 is also designed to make official information held by local authorities more freely available, as well as to provide for public admission to meetings of local authorities. As of now, there have been no rules ratified that accompany the 1982 Act itself.

The Protected Disclosures Act 2000 is designed to protect "whistleblowers". The Act is currently being reviewed (see Terms of Reference for the commission of inquiry and information regarding submissions) with recommendations due by end 2003. The Privacy Act 1993 allows individuals to obtain and correct records about themselves held by public and private bodies.

The revised version of the Protected Disclosures Act can be found here

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NIGERIA[Go to top]

Law

Article 39(1) of the Constitution includes the right to receive and impart ideas and information without interference as part of the right to freedom of expression.

The Freedom of Information Bill 2004 was passed by the House of Representatives in 2004. The Bill was read for the first time in the Senate in 2004, a second time in 2005 and was ultimately referred to the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Freedom of Information who reported on the Bill in 2006. The Bill was read a third time in November 2006 and is awaiting Presidential assent.

On 28 May, 2011, the Freedom of Information Bill was finally passed into a law. President Goodluck Jonathan signed the bill and has now been called Freedom of Information Act 2011. The two Chambers of the National Assembly had passed the bill on 26 May 2011 before the president gave his final assent on 28 may. Since the first submission of the FOI bill to Nigeria's 4th National Assembly in 1999, the bill has passed through phases of delays and rejection before it became law in May 2011 - heralding a new era of transparency . Civil Society organisation in Nigeria played a big role in bringing about the law into place. Civil society groups like Right to Know Initiative, Media Rights Agenda and Open Society Justice Initiative were at the forefront, spearheading the movement to bring about an Information access law for a long time and their endeavor has now finally paid off - clearly demonstrating the power of civil societies

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PAKISTAN[Go to top]

Law

Eighteenth amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan in 2010, resulted (among other things) in the insertion of Article 19 (A) in the Constitution. It explicitly recognises that every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law.

The Local Governance Ordinance was passed in 2001. Article 137 sets out limited provisions concerning citizens' right to information about any office of the District Government, Tehsil Municipal Administration and Union Administration.

The Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan produced a Model Freedom of Information Act in 2001. However, in October 2002, the Government promulgated the Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 which is protected under the Provisional Constitutional Order.

In September 2003, civil society submitted draft Business Rules to the Government for consideration. In 2004, the Government finally promulgated FOI Rules which are now in force.

On 20 May 2004, Chief Coordinator PPP Parliamentarians and President PPP Policy Planning Committee, Sherry Rehman submitted a Freedom of Information Bill in the National Assembly, calling for key amendments in existing law and seeking universal access to information. The Bill was re-submitted for review by the National Assembly in September 2006. In the meanwhile, two provincial governments of pakistan enacted their own Freedom of Information laws in 2005 and 2006 respectively: Balochistan Freedom of Information Act 2005 and Sindh Freedom of Information Act 2006.

On 19 June 2008, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in collaboration with World Bank Institute organised a consultation with civil society stakeholders on the Freedom of Information Bill 2008 which is likely to be taken up by the Cabinet for discussion on 16 July 2008. Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan (CRCP) concluded a consultation on the recommendations for improvement on 14 July 2008 by demanding of the government that the proposed Freedom of Information Bill 2008 should come into force only after holding detailed consultation with all of the stakeholders. CHRI has reviewed the Bill and made a set of preliminary recommendations to strenghten the Bill.

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Continued

 

 
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