Access to Information as Human Right

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Freedom of Information as an Internationally Protected Human Right. by Toby Mendel*

Freedom of Information as an Internationally Protected Human Right. by Toby Mendel*

The right to freedom of information, and particularly the right of access to information held by public authorities, has attracted a great deal of attention recently. In the past five years, a record number of countries from around the world – including Fiji, India, Japan, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and a number of other European States – have taken steps to enact legislation giving effect to this right. In doing so, they join those countries which enacted such laws some time ago, such as Sweden, United States, Finland, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada. Intergovernmental bodies have also started to devote more attention to this issue, with significant developments at the UN and Commonwealth.
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Internationalizing the right to know : conceptualizations of access to information in human rights law

Internationalizing the right to know : conceptualizations of access to information in human rights law

This includes a general right to access information held by the government, including information provided at meetings, as well as rights that create positive obligations on government to proactively provide important information. This dissertation is not investigating a right to access to information that is generally available to the public or a right of individuals and/or the media to gather and provide information. The term “access to information” and “right of access” will be used to mean access to government-held information. The term “freedom of information” is not being used. This is to ensure that there is no confusion between the right of access to government-held information and the term “freedom of information,” which was first used in a 1946 UN General Assembly resolution, which stated, “Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated.” G.A. Res. 59(I), ¶ 1 (Dec. 14, 1946). This statement often has been used to argue that access to government-held information is a human right, but the following paragraph states that the right “implies the right to gather, transmit, and publish news anywhere and everywhere without fetters.” Id. at ¶ 2. In 1948 the United Nations also hosted a freedom of information conference that was charged in part with creating a Convention on Freedom of Information, of which a final draft was never created. This convention was mostly concerned with the free flow of information across borders and said nothing about government information. See generally I NGER O STERDAHL , F REEDOM OF I NFORMATION IN Q UESTION : F REEDOM OF I NFORMATION IN I NTERNATIONAL L AW AND THE C ALLS FOR A N EW W ORLD I NFORMATION AND C OMMUNICATION O RDER (NWICO) (Vol. 11, 1992); H ILDING E EK , F REEDOM OF I NFORMATION AS A P ROJECT OF I NTERNATIONAL L EGISLATION : A S TUDY OF I NTERNATIONAL L AW M AKING (1953).
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Why there can be a human right to internet access

Why there can be a human right to internet access

rights, such as the right to freedom of communication as determined by the Constitutional Council of France, or the right to freedom of expression (or the right to information as included in the right to freedom of expression) by ECtHR. The research question of this dissertation — ‘Why there could be a human right to internet access?’ — may thus be considered to have been already settled by existing legal decisions. However, this dissertation as a philosophical inquiry does not concern about a legal right to internet access. Rather, this dissertation aims to explore if a human right to internet access can be ‘more’ than a legal one; that is, if this right can be a fundamental human right or a natural right by itself without being a product or an implication of some parent rights such as freedom of communication or freedom of expression. 10 It is worth asking, if right to internet access can be invoked only when, say, the right to freedom of expression is invoked or if besides cases related to the conventional senses of freedom of expression, access to internet is also a human right in general. This aim is motivated by the general reality in the current era (and the foreseeable future) that internet access also facilitates economic, cultural, and political developments, as the then United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Frank La Rue noted in his report in 2011. 11 My answer to this explorative question in the dissertation is more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’; I will briefly introduce my answer in the last section of this chapter and further elaborate it throughout the dissertation.
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The Human Right to Privacy

The Human Right to Privacy

To decide whether two rights really conflict it is not enough to know their names. One must know their content. Freedom of expression is freedom to state, discuss, and debate anything relevant to our functioning as normative agents: religion, ethics, learning, art, and whatever goes on in society or government that bears on our thinking and deciding autonomously and being free to pursue our conception of a worthwhile life. If I stop a friend from mischievously shouting “Fire” in a crowded theatre, or simply from boring us with stories about his holiday, I do not infringe his freedom of expression, even in a small way. Similarly, the right to information is a right to the information needed to function as a normative agent: access to the relevant thoughts of others, to the arts, to exchange of ideas, and, in a democracy, to information about the issues before the public, certain of the government’s acts and intentions, and so on. If the government of my country does not reveal certain of its acts and intentions, my right to information may be infringed. If the newspapers in London fail to publish the results of my favourite baseball team in Cape Cod, I may be maddeningly frustrated but my right to information will not be infringed. With an adequate understanding of the public-private distinction in place, society could then demand much finer-grained arguments for the existence of a public interest than anything we are offered now. 58 The
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Consolidation of Arguments in favor of the Right of Access to Public Information as a Fundamental Right

Consolidation of Arguments in favor of the Right of Access to Public Information as a Fundamental Right

Following the fundamental reasons for human rights and the access to information, another humanistic foundation must be touched upon, derived from art. 24 CE, the right to the truth through access as the right of all persons arrested, convicted, prosecuted. If these persons, their “litisconsorts”, guarantors, their technical defense and representation cannot access files with the guarantee that this is a fundamental right, legal security is restricted to the procedural capacity of the party that requires such access, access to the truth, so that the right to judicial protection and self-defense will be vulnerable. It is necessary to mention especially the development achieved by the right to the truth 7 , as a right that emanates from the International Law of Human Rights, and which nowadays acquires important attention, in direct and continuous relation with the access to public information. The development of the right of access to public information as a fundamental right and the recognition of the right to the truth now have solid foundations in international law and project significant legal consequences that contribute to the respect and full exercise of human rights and this has to be valued. ROMERO SILVERA (2010: 159 et seq.) maintains this foundation also, stating that "The lack of information or disinformation by the State is an element that characterizes human rights violations, State terrorism and, above all, the crime of enforced disappearance, which in turn constitutes a form of psychic torture for the relatives of the victims”.
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A human right to democracy?

A human right to democracy?

achievement of contemporary human rights practice, namely that the practice has created a standard for international political legitimacy. Human rights apply to national, international and global politics. This standard is not set in stone, of course: human rights are a work in progress and as such subject to both negative criticism – focusing on problems of the current set of standards – and positive criticism – proposals for what should be included. But while the achievement may be fragile, this does not lessen the normative significance of the political project, it seems to me. Vice versa, the attempt to overcome this fragility by providing moral foundations to this project risks being too parochial to be successful.
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The Human Right to Food

The Human Right to Food

Finally, the duty to fulfill is a positive obligation, which requires states to ‘establish political, economic and social systems that provide access to the guaranteed right for all members of society.’ (Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights). This could include ensuring the affordability and safety of culturally appropriate staple foods, the protection of land and resources for food production and the provision of emergency relief for people in crisis. Here the commitments under ICN and ICN2 for the development of comprehensive food polices which link health and ecological-sustainability would seem to be key.
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Is There a Human Right to Resistance?

Is There a Human Right to Resistance?

violate human rights. 31 It is reasonable to assume that Beitz thinks that the state’s obligation to respect human rights has a global reach. This is supported by human rights practices. Pogge points to Article 28 of the UDHR as evidence of a negative duty to not harm the human rights of others. It states that all people have the right to live in an international system in which they can realize the content of their human rights. 32 This is further supported by the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the area of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. It is argued that states have the extraterritorial responsibility to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights. 33 This is compatible with the notion that positive action is context dependent and that there is still a negative duty to not violate the human rights of non-citizens. It also matches the historical narrative underpinning Rawls’ and Beitz’s conception of human rights. For example, the human rights regime is to constrain the state internally, but also externally. It is the idea that a state that respects human rights at home will not be an aggressive neighbor. A human rights regime that allows some states to violate human rights abroad because it has compelling reasons to do so is not reconcilable with the best practice of human rights.
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Protecting the Public's Right to Know: The Debate over Privatization and Access to Government Information Under State Law

Protecting the Public's Right to Know: The Debate over Privatization and Access to Government Information Under State Law

37. See Hampton, supra note 21. Hampton points out that in 1996, candidates for county supervisor in Riverside County, California, were pushing for continued privatiza- tion efforts, mentioning hospitals, jails, data processing, bill collecting, and street sweeping as viable areas for privatization. See id. Even though research into the viable areas has been stressed, advocates of privatization have still called for “massive privatization” be- cause they still perceive that the profit-motivated private sector is more efficient than the government. Id. Hampton points out that the country “farms out” millions of dollars to pri- vate companies to provide services, and entire units of government have been shut down with a resulting loss of government jobs. Id. Based on this information, it appears that pri- vatization is not a fading remnant of the Reagan era, but is still going strong as govern- ments seek to rid themselves of public costs.
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Today's Porn: Not A Constitutional Right; Not A Human Right

Today's Porn: Not A Constitutional Right; Not A Human Right

Patrick A. Trueman is the Chief Executive Officer of the Na- tional Center on Sexual Exploitation. Formerly, Mr. Trueman served as Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Sec- tion, Criminal Division, U. S. Department of Justice, Washing- ton, D.C. from 1988 to 1993. That is the office charged with prosecution of both adult and child pornography crimes, as well as sexual exploitation of children. In his private legal prac- tice since leaving the Department of Justice Mr. Trueman has served as a legal consultant to the federal government’s Rescue and Restore Anti-Trafficking Campaign, training federal, state, and local law enforcement officials on human trafficking. True- man has also traveled throughout the world to speak and train on the issue of human trafficking and pornography and to deliver papers on the effects of sexual exploitation and violence on culture and family. During his 41 years as a lawyer, he has litigated cases at all levels of the federal system, including in the United States Supreme Court. He has been an advisor to many municipalities on First Amendment law and has helped draft ordinances to end or curb the impact of strip clubs and other sexually ex- ploitive businesses.
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The Human Right to Peace

The Human Right to Peace

Article 29(2) of the Declaration recalls that “[i]n the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.” 22 How can it be contended that the Universal Declaration is silent on the lawfulness of the use of force if the Declaration permits limitation of the right to life only when it is “determined by law”? Obviously, unlawful resort to force to settle an international dispute cannot be consistent with the requirement that it be “determined by law.”
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Development as a Human Right

Development as a Human Right

The hard fact is that progress toward the human right to development presupposes a certain level of political development; the Amins and Pol. Pots can be overthrown but not [r]

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Right to Information – Constitutional Perspective

Right to Information – Constitutional Perspective

In Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India 3 Bhagawati J..., has remarked that ‘Democracy is based essentially on free debate and open discussion, for that is the only corrective of government action in a democratic set up. If democracy means government of the people by the people, it is obvious that every citizen must be entitled to participate in the democratic process and in order to enable him to brightly exercise his right of making a choice, A Supreme Court judgment delivered by Mr. Justice Mathew is considered a landmark’.

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RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT 2005

RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT 2005

Since the information is to be paid for, the reply of the PIO is necessarily limited to either denying the request (in whole or part) and/or providing a computation of "further fees". The time between the reply of the PIO and the time taken to deposit the further fees for information is excluded from the time allowed. If information is not provided within this period, it is treated as deemed refusal. Refusal with or without reasons may be ground for appeal or complaint. Further, information not provided in the times prescribed is to b e provided free of charge. For Central Departments as of 2006, there is a fee of 10 for filing the request, 2 per page of information and 5 for each hour of inspection after the first hour. If the applicant is a Below Poverty Card holder(BPL), then no fee shall apply. Such BPL Card holders have to provide a copy of their BPL card along with their application to the Public Authority. States Government and High Courts fix their own rules.
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Right to Information Act- 2005

Right to Information Act- 2005

amazing by any stretch of imagination. It used with zeal, this Act will make the real difference to way we live and behave in public and the way we use, misuse and abuse public money. The Act has transformed the regime of secrecy into regime of openness. It marks a significant shift in the Indian democracy and ushered a new era of empowerment of common man in India. So, RTI is the most effective instrument to check corruption where the citizen has the right to take initiatives, to seek information from the state and thereby enforce transparency and accountability. References:
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Right to Information Act, 2005

Right to Information Act, 2005

time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reas[r]

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Disclosure to Promote the Right To Information

Disclosure to Promote the Right To Information

information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, and whereas the attached publication of the Bureau of Indian Standards is of particular interest to the public, particularly disadvantaged communities and those engaged in the pursuit of education and knowledge, the attached public safety standard is made available to promote the timely dissemination of this information in an accurate manner to the public.

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CHAPTER 2 THE RIGHT OF ACCESS TO ADEQUATE HOUSING

CHAPTER 2 THE RIGHT OF ACCESS TO ADEQUATE HOUSING

One of the objectives of the government, in its process of providing access to adequate housing is to create sustainable and habitable environments. The principles of sustainable housing need to be considered in the design and implementation of housing projects if people’s quality of life is to be improved in the long term. Contextually sustainability can be defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. There is therefore a need to look after the ecological support systems upon which all life depends. Methods of doing this include minimising the negative impact on natural systems, for example, pollution and soil erosion. This will include minimising the use of non-renewable resources. For example, the design of houses should reduce the amount of energy necessary to heat and cool them, and ensure that water supply and sanitation systems make efficient use of water. 58
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Toward a Limited Right of Access to Jury Deliberations

Toward a Limited Right of Access to Jury Deliberations

Constitutional provisions that might insulate or bear on the roles of jurors and jury are not sufficient to trump the right of access to gather information. A con[r]

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Collective Action Right as a Basic Human Right

Collective Action Right as a Basic Human Right

The nature of the collective action right has solidified as a result of the decrees by ECHR based on items 10 and 11. As has been expressed in items 10 and 11 of the European Human Rights Convention, “everyone has the right of freedom of expression” and “everybody has the right of peaceful assembly and association”. It should be noted that the enrichment by ECHR of the content of item 11 of the European Human Rights Convention based on expression and demonstration march is no coincidence. Item 11 of the European Human Rights Convention which regulates the right of organization comes after item 10 which regulates the freedom of expression. As is seen clearly in the decrees by the court, the right of organization is handled as the collective appearance of the freedom of expression. In the Energy Structure and Yolsen/Turkey decree (App no 68959/01) dated 2009, the public authority gave a ruling that those who participated in the strike shall receive a disciplinary punishment following the carrying out of the strike by the public workers despite its prohibition with a memorandum. In this lawsuit, the court emphasized that the right to strike is an important factor for defending the interests of the trade union members and considered the disciplinary punishment imposed on the public workers for participating in the strike as an intervention within the scope of item 11. In addition, the related interpretation was based on the ILO Convention No. 87 between the European Social Charter (Köksal, 2013: 69). Therefore, when interpreting item 11 of the Agreement, the Court takes into consideration the protection of the economic and social interests of the workers as well as handling the the issue of defending the economic and social interests from a wider perspective based on the freedom of expression (Engin, 2015a: 22).
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