On the occasion of Right to Know Day, we are pleased to announce our new partnership with Right2Info, an initiative of the Open Society Justice Initiative. For the last several years, the Right2Info platform has offered jurisprudence and legal resources on the right to information from around the world. As part of our partnership, 150 analyses currently hosted on Right2Info.org will be revised and adapted for Global Freedom of Expression Database. These cases will greatly enhance Columbia database by ensuring that the global jurisprudence on the right to information is well included. We are grateful for the partnership with Right2Info which is bringing us closer to a unified resource on all aspects of the right to freedom of expression and information globally.
Over the next few months we will be publishing a few right to information cases each week. This week we hope you will enjoy reading the following featured cases:
September 23-28, 2016
Corte Suprema de Justicia de la Nación, S.622.XXXIII “S.,V. c/ M., D.A. s/medidas precautorias
Decision Date: November 30, 1998
The Supreme Court of Argentina held that the freedom of the press to report information about a child and its father in the context of paternity proceedings may be restricted to protect the child’s right to privacy. The Court held that where the essential rights of freedom of the press and individual privacy collide, a court must engage in a factual inquiry to determine the stronger interest. The Court held that when such privacy interest involves a minor’s personal family situation, the dissemination of the information may be prohibited.
Phinjo Gombu v. Tom Mitchinson, Assistant Commissioner et al.
Decision Date: September 3, 2002
The Superior Court of Justice in Ontario held that the refusal to disclose information about campaign contributions, including names, addresses and phone numbers of contributors in electronic format was unreasonable. The Court first stressed that the purpose of access to information legislation was to ensure the integrity of the democratic process and political accountability. It further held that considering that names and addresses of candidates were already disclosed, additional disclosure of telephone numbers, constituted a minimal further intrustion of privacy.
Union of India v. Association for Democratic Reforms and Another; with People's Union for Civil Liberties and another v. Union of India and another
Decision Date: May 2, 2002
The Supreme Court of India upheld a High Court order mandating the Election Commission to obtain and publicly disclose background information relating to candidates running for office, including information on their assets, criminal records, and educational background. The Court further stressed that misinformation or non-information makes a farce of democracy. It ruled that the right to know about public officials is derived from the constitutional right to freedom of expression.
Shalit v Peres
Decision Date: May 8, 1990
The Supreme Court of Israel held that coalition agreements between parliamentary factions, concluded prior to the formation of a government and dealing with legislative and executive functions should be published. The Court stated that “public scrutiny is not only an expression of the right to know, but it is also an expression of the right to control”.
Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission
Decision Date: May 29, 1987
The Supreme Court of the Philippines held that the government agencies have no discretion to refuse disclosure of, or access to, information of public concern because the Constitution guarantees access to such information. The Court also held that a citizen does not need to show any legal or special interest in order to establish his or her right to information, and that the State bears the burden of proving that the information is either exempt from disclosure by law or that it is not of public concern.
Greenwatch (U) Ltd v. Attorney General of Uganda and Uganda Electricity Transmission Co. Ltd
Decision Date: November 12, 2002
The High Court of Uganda held that a power company wholly owned by the state is a government agent and therefore power agreements to which it is a party are public documents subject to disclosure requirements. However, on the facts of the case it ruled that disclosure did not need to be provided because the organization that requested the information, an environmental rights NGO, had failed to prove that its members were citizens.
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Thank you and see you next week!
Project Manager, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression
Columbia Global Freedom of Expression
Program Officer, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression