The results of the world’s first rating of RTI laws in 100 countries shows a significant spread: out of a possible total of 150 points, the range is from 39 points (Austria, one of 30 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 if the core of the legal framework for protecting this fundamental right, the access to information, is limited in scope and mechanisms for exercising the right.
The vast majority of countries have a score over 60 out of 150 points (87% of countries have over 60 points). Europe overall accounts for 15 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: two thirds of countries(64%) 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.
The top 20 countries with scores over 100 tend to be younger laws which reflect the progress made in international standard setting on this right in the past 20 years: with the exception of Finland (a score of 105 for a legal framework which includes a law adopted in 1951) the average age of the laws in the top 20 countries is just 5 years.
Features of the stronger laws include that they establish clear procedures for requesters and have strong oversight bodies. It may be too early to conclude how these laws will work in practice, but reports on implementation in some of the top countries, including Mexico, India, and Slovenia, support the conclusion that strong laws can lead to strong protections for the public’s right to know.