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Designing Right To Information Laws For Effective Implementation

Designing Right To Information Laws For Effective Implementation Author: Toby Mendel

Date Published: 12:56:30 AM Thursday, 23-January-2020

Over 100 countries have now adopted laws that give individuals a right to access information held by public authorities, now recognised globally as an international human right. An ongoing challenge has been the significant policy-practice gap in many countries caused by a failure to implement these laws properly. Despite this, relatively little research has been done on how to design RTI laws so as to facilitate better implementation. This paper addresses this research gap, looking at different areas where better or more careful legal design might reduce the burden on public authorities and others tasked with implementing RTI laws while also ensuring strong respect for this human right. The first area is ‘Direct Impacts’ or issues where there is a direct causal relationship between the rules and how they are supposed to be implemented, such as definitions, the regime of exceptions and the procedures for processing requests. In these areas, the main recommendations are to focus on the need for clarity and limits on administrative discretion while promoting strong overall standards.