The central idea behind the RTI Rating is to provide RTI advocates, reformers, legislators and others with a reliable tool for comparatively assessing the overall strength of a legal framework for RTI. The Rating also indicates the strengths and weaknesses of the legal framework, and provides a handy means for pinpointing areas in need of improvement.
The Rating Results
The results of the global rating of RTI laws in 102 countries shows a significant spread: out of a possible total of 150 points, the range is from 39 points (Austria, one of the countries currently pending final review by national experts) to 135 points (Serbia).
Whilst there may be some slight shifts in results for the countries which still need national review, their positions are not likely to change significantly, as a low score generally indicates that the core legal framework for protecting RTI lacks the basic hallmarks of an advanced RTI system.
The vast majority of countries (90%) have a score over 60 out of 150 points. Europe overall accounts for 11 of the bottom 20, primarily the older European laws which are more limited in scope and have weaker appeals mechanisms.
The analysis shows vast room for improvement: 62% of countries scored in the middle range, between 60 and 100 points out of 150. Typical weaknesses were the limited scope, over-broad exceptions regimes, shortcomings in oversight and appeals mechanisms, and lack of legal requirements to promote awareness of the public’s right of access to information.
Among the most noteworthy trends is that the top scoring countries in the RTI Rating tend to have younger laws. This is a reflection of the progress made in international standard setting on this right over the past two decades. Although there are a few exceptions, such as Finland, which scores relatively well with a legal framework that was first adopted in 1951, all of the top 20 laws in the world were passed after the year 2000. It may be too early to conclude how some of these laws will work in practice, but reports on implementation in top countries such as Mexico, India, and Slovenia support the conclusion that strong laws can lead to strong protections for the public’s right to know.