Country

Ethiopia

Ethiopia

Name of law : A Proclamation to Provide for Freedom of the Mass Media and Access to Information
First adopted : 2008

Section Max ScoreScore
Right of Access 6 5
Scope 30 25
Requesting procedures 30 19
Exceptions 30 18
Appeals 30 25
Sanctions 8 6
Promotional measures 16 14
TOTAL 150 112

Introduction:
This is one of a number of strong laws that have emerged in Africa recently. Although a relatively small number of countries on that continent have access laws, we hope that the increasing number of robust regimes will mark a transition towards more open systems of government in Africa. The biggest weakness in Ethiopia's framework are its preponderance of illegitmate and non-harm tested exceptions, and its long timelines. Other than that, the law is quite good.
Right of Access

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

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Article

Comments
1 The legal framework (including jurisprudence) recognises a fundamental right of access to information.Score 0 for no constitutional right to information, 1 point for a limited constitutional right, 2 points for full constitutional recognition of a public right of access to information.2 YES Preamble of the Constitution: "We, the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia: Strongly committed, in full and free exercise of our right to self-determination, to building a political community founded on the rule of law and capable of ensuring a lasting peace, guaranteeing a democratic order, and advancing our economic and social development; Firmly convinced that the fulfillment of this objective requires full respect of individual and people’s fundamental freedoms and rights, to live together on the basis of equality and without any sexual, religious or cultural discrimination; Further convinced that by continuing to live with our rich and proud cultural legacies in territories we have long inhabited, have, through continuous interaction on various levels and forms of life, built up common interest and have also contributed to the emergence of a common outlook; Fully cognizant that our common destiny can best be served by rectifying historically unjust relationships and by further promoting our shared interests; Convinced that to live as one economic community is necessary in order to create sustainable and mutually supportive conditions for ensuring respect for our rights and freedoms and for the collective promotion of our interests; Determined to consolidate, as a lasting legacy, the peace and the prospect of a democratic order which our struggles and sacrifices have brought about; Have therefore adopted, on 8 December 1994 this constitution through representatives we have duly elected for this purpose as an instrument that binds us in a mutual commitment to fulfill the objectives and the principles set forth above." Article 29 (3)(b) of the Constitution: "Access to information of public interest." Preamble and Article 29(3)(b) of the Constitution
2 The legal framework creates a specific presumption in favour of access to all information held by public authorities, subject only to limited exceptions.No=0, Partially=1, Yes=22 Partially Article 12(1): "All persons have the right to seek, obtain and communicate any information held by public bodies, except as expressly provided for by this Proclamation." Article 12(1) provides for a broad interpretation.
3 3.1 The legal framework contains a specific statement of principles calling for a broad interpretation of the RTI law
3.2 The legal framework emphasises the benefits of the right to information?
3.1(Y/N - max 1 point)
3.2 (Y/N - max 1 point)
2 YES 11(3): "to encourage and promote public participation, public empowerment, to foster a culture of transparecy, accountablity and effecincy in the functions of public bodies and to encourage and promote good governance." 11(3) 11(3)




Scope

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MAX score
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4 Everyone (including non-citizens and legal entities) has the right to file requests for information.Score 0 point if only residents/citizens; 1 point for all natural persons; 1 point for legal persons. 2 YES 2(19): "“Person” mean a physical or juridical person." 12(1): "All persons have the right to seek, obtain and communicate any information held by public bodies, except as expressly provided for by this Proclamation." 2(19) includes legal persons. Art 12 right of access applies to all persons, with no residency or citizenship requirement.
5 The right of access applies to all material held by or on behalf of public authorities which is recorded in any format, regardless of who produced it.Score 1-3 points if limited definition of information information such as not "internal documents" or databases excluded, 4 points for all information with no exceptions.4 YES 2(6): "“Information” means any material recorded in any form." 2(7): "“Record” means regardless of who created it or when it was created, any recorded information in the possession and under the control of a public body and includes: a) any document, file or manuscript; b) any microfilm, microfiche or facsimile; c) any reproduction of images embodied in microfilms, whether enlarged or not: d) any other information which may be watched, read, listened to or otherwise comprehended only using a computer or any other technical device; or e) any other information recorded in any other form or medium." Art 2(6) and 2(7) define information broadly.
6 Requesters have a right to access both information and records/documents (i.e. a right both to ask for information and to apply for specific documents).Score 1 point for only documents, 1 point for information2 Partially 2(6): "“Information” means any material recorded in any form." 2(7): "“Record” means regardless of who created it or when it was created, any recorded information in the possession and under the control of a public body and includes: a) any document, file or manuscript; b) any microfilm, microfiche or facsimile; c) any reproduction of images embodied in microfilms, whether enlarged or not: d) any other information which may be watched, read, listened to or otherwise comprehended only using a computer or any other technical device; or e) any other information recorded in any other form or medium." 12(2): "The right referred to under sub-article (1) of this Article shall include the right to be informed whether or not the public body holds a record containing the requested information and to obtain information from any public body by means of; a) inspection, taking extracts and notes; b) certified copies of any records of such public authority; c) diskettes, floppies or any other electronic mode or through print-outs where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device." Art 2(6) and 2(7) do not specifically enshrine the right to ask questions, but are quite broad. However, the wording of 12(2) implies that requesters do not have the right to ask questions. I am scoring a 1 one the relatively broad definition, and hope that our local expert can clarify this issue.
7 The right of access applies to the executive branch with no bodies or classes of information excluded.This includes executive (cabinet) and adminsitration including all ministries, departments, local government, public schools, public health care bodies, the police, the armed forces, security services, and bodies owned or controlled by the above.Score 4 points for central government agencies covered: 1 for the head of state, 1 for ministries, 1 for other non-statutory agencies created by the ministries, 1 for state and local government if the government is unitary. If it´s a federalist system, 2 points for the non-statutory agencies. This can be determined by examining the length and thoroughness of the list, if such a schedule exists. Score 1 point for the archives. Add three points and deduct 1 for each exempted central agency (such as the armed forces, police, etc).8 Partially Art 2(5): "“Public Body” means any body established under the Federal Constitution or state constitution or any other law which forms part of any level or branch of the federal or regional state or owned, controlled or directly or indirectly substantially financed by funds provided by the federal or regional governments or accountable to the federal or regional states." Article 69 in the Constitution: "The President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is the Head of State." Article 72 in the Constitution: "The Powers of the Executive 1. The Highest executive powers of the Federal Government are vested in the Prime Minister and in the Council of Ministers. 2. The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are responsible to the House of Peoples’ Representatives. In the exercise of State functions, members of the Council of Ministers are collectively responsible for all decisions they make as a body. 3. Unless otherwise provided in this Constitution the term of office of the Prime Minister is for the duration of the mandate of the House of Peoples’ Representatives." 24: "The public relation officer shall not permit any request for an access to a cabinet record or a request to conform the existence or non existence of information contained in a cabinet record other than those records that are made available to the general public by the decision of the cabinet . 2/ Without prejudice to sub article (1) of this Article, a cabinet document shall include: a) a record that has been submitted to the cabinet for its consideration or is proposed by a head of the public body to be so submitted, being a document that was brought into existence for the purpose of submission for consideration by the cabinet; b) an official document of a cabinet; c) a document that is a copy of, or a part of, or contains an extract from, the document referred to in sub-article (a) or (b); or d) a record the disclosure of which would involve the disclosure of any deliberation or decision of cabinet, or its committee other than a document by which a decision of the cabinet was officially published." Art 2(5) seems to cover the entire government, as well as local governments and any body established under law or the constitution. Const Art 69 and 72 create the executive. However, Article 24 excludes Cabinet Documents and Information.
8 The right of access applies to the legislature, including both administrative and other information, with no bodies excluded. Score 1 point if the law only applies to administrative documents, 2-3 points if some bodies excluded, 4 points if all legislative branch at all levels of government4 YES 2(5): "“Public Body” means any body established under the Federal Constitution or state constitution or any other law which forms part of any level or branch of the federal or regional state or owned, controlled or directly or indirectly substantially financed by funds provided by the federal or regional governments or accountable to the federal or regional states." Article 53 of the Constitution: "There shall be two Federal Houses: The House of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of the Federation." 2(5) covers bodies created by the constitution. Constitution Art 53 creates the legislature.
9 The right of access applies to the judicial branch, including both administrative and other information, with no bodies excluded. Score 1 point if the law only applies to administrative documents, 2-3 points if some bodies excluded, 4 points if all judicial branch at all levels of government4 YES 2(5): "“Public Body” means any body established under the Federal Constitution or state constitution or any other law which forms part of any level or branch of the federal or regional state or owned, controlled or directly or indirectly substantially financed by funds provided by the federal or regional governments or accountable to the federal or regional states." Article 78 of the Constitution: " Independence of the Judiciary 1. An independent judiciary is established by this Constitution. 2. Supreme Federal judicial authority is vested in the Federal Supreme Court. The House of Peoples’ Representatives may, by two-thirds majority vote, establish nationwide, or in some parts of the country only, the Federal High Court and First-Instance Courts it deems necessary. Unless decided in this manner, the jurisdictions of the Federal High Court and of the First-Instance Courts are hereby delegated to the State courts. 3. States shall establish State Supreme, High and First-Instance Courts. Particulars shall be determined by law. 4. Special or ad hoc courts which take judicial powers away form the regular courts or institutions legally empowered to exercise judicial functions and which do not follow legally prescribed procedures shall not be established. 5. Pursuant to sub-Article 5 of Article 34 the House of Peoples’ Representatives and State Councils can establish or give official recognition to religious and customary courts. Religious and customary courts that had state recognition and functioned prior to the adoption of the Constitution shall be organized on the basis of recognition accorded to them by this Constitution." 2(5) covers bodies created by the constitution. Constitution Art 78 creates the judiciary.
10 The right of access applies to State-owned enterprises (commercial entities that are owned or controlled by the State). Score 1 point if some, 2 points if all2 NO Art 2(5): "“Public Body” means any body established under the Federal Constitution or state constitution or any other law which forms part of any level or branch of the federal or regional state or owned, controlled or directly or indirectly substantially financed by funds provided by the federal or regional governments or accountable to the federal or regional states." Art 2(5). This law does not apply to state owned enterprises which are considered as private enterprises. Government owned enterprises are considered as private entities and not subject to the law.
11 The right of access applies to other public authorities, including constitutional, statutory and oversight bodies (such as an election commission or information commission/er). Score 1 point if some bodies, 2 points if all2 YES Art 2(5): "“Public Body” means any body established under the Federal Constitution or state constitution or any other law which forms part of any level or branch of the federal or regional state or owned, controlled or directly or indirectly substantially financed by funds provided by the federal or regional governments or accountable to the federal or regional states."
12 The right of access applies to a) private bodies that perform a public function and b) private bodies that receive significant public funding. 1 point for public functions, 1 point for public funding 2 Partially 2(5): "“Public Body” means any body established under the Federal Constitution or state constitution or any other law which forms part of any level or branch of the federal or regional state or owned, controlled or directly or indirectly substantially financed by funds provided by the federal or regional governments or accountable to the federal or regional states." 2(5) includes bodies financed by the state, but not those which perform public functions.

Requesting Procedures

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

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Article

Comments
13 Requesters are not required to provide reasons for their requests.Y/N answer 0 or 2 points2 YES 14(2): "In presenting a request for information, no one shall be required to provide reasons for the request."
14 Requesters are only required to provide the details necessary for identifying and delivering the information (i.e. some form of address for delivery).Score Max 2 points and deduct if requesters are required to give any of the following: ID number, telephone number, residential address, etc.2 YES 14(1): " Any person who desires to obtain information shall present his request to the concerned public relations officer in writing, or through electronics device, clearly identifying the information he seeks. Where the requester owing to illiteracy or physical incapacity is unable to present his request in witting, the public relation officer has a duty to assist the requester by reducing his request in writing in the prescribed form." 14(1) only states that the individual need provide a description of the information.
15 There are clear and relatively simple procedures for making requests. Requests may be submitted by any means of communication, with no requirement to use official forms or to state that the information is being requested under the access to information law.Max 2 points. Considerations include that there is no requirement to state that the request is under the RTI law, nor to use an official form, nor to identify the document being sought. 2 Partially The requester is expected to make his/her request in writing or in electronic format and use a prescribed format of the organization.
16 Public officials are required provide assistance to help requesters formulate their requests, or to contact and assist requesters where requests that have been made are vague, unduly broad or otherwise need clarification. Score 1 point for help in formulation and 1 point for clarification procedures2 YES 27(2): "the request is insufficiently precise to enable the information sought to be identified, and the requester has failed to reframe his request even though the public relations officer has provided him with assistance to this end." 27(2) implies a duty to clarify and assist.
17     Public officials are required to provide assistance to requesters who require it because of special needs, for example because they are illiterate or disabled.Score Yes=2 point, No=02 YES 14(1): "Any person who desires to obtain information shall present his request to the concerned public relations officer in writing, or through electronics device, clearly identifying the information he seeks. Where the requester owing to illiteracy or physical incapacity is unable to present his request in witting, the public relation officer has a duty to assist the requester by reducing his request in writing in the prescribed form."
18 Requesters are provided with a receipt or acknowledgement upon lodging a request within a reasonable timeframe, which should not exceed 5 working daysScore 1 point for receipt, 1 point for max 5 working days2 NO Not mentioned.
19 Clear and appropriate procedures are in place for situations where the authority to which a request is directed does not have the requested information. This includes an obligation to inform the requester that the information is not held and to refer the requester to another institution or to transfer the request where the public authority knows where the information is held.Score: 1 point for information not held, 1 for referrals or 2 for transfers2 Partially 14(3): "Upon receiving request for information, the public relation officer, in accordance with sub-article (1): of this Article shall as expeditiously as possible either provide the information requested up on payment of the prescribed fee, or provide a written response stating the reasons for rejecting the request on any of the grounds specified under Chapter Three of this Proclamation notifying the requester his rights of appeal. However the response shall in any case be made not more than thirty working days, of the receipt of the request."
20 Public authorities are required to comply with requesters’ preferences regarding how they access information, subject only to clear and limited overrides (e.g. to protect a record).Score: 2 points for Yes, only 1 point if some limitations2 YES 14(6): "Information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately diverts the resources of the public body or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question." 30: "A requester whose request for access to a record of a public body has been granted may, 1/ If the record exists in the language that the requester prefers, be given access in that language; or 2/ If the record does not exist in the language preferred, be given access in any language the record exists."
21 Public authorities are required to respond to requests as soon as possible.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points 2 YES 14(3): "Upon receiving request for information, the public relation officer, in accordance with sub-article (1): of this Article shall as expeditiously as possible either provide the information requested up on payment of the prescribed fee, or provide a written response stating the reasons for rejecting the request on any of the grounds specified under Chapter Three of this Proclamation notifying the requester his rights of appeal. However the response shall in any case be made not more than thirty working days, of the receipt of the request." 14(3)Requests to Obtain Information "Upon receiving request for information, the public relation officer, in accordance with sub-article (1): of this Article shall as expeditiously as possible either provide the information requested up on payment of the prescribed fee, or provide a written response stating the reasons for rejecting the request on any of the grounds specified under Chapter Three of this Proclamation notifying the requester his rights of appeal. <...>"
22 There are clear and reasonable maximum timelines (20 working days or less) for responding to requests, regardless of the manner of satisfying the request (including through publication).Score: 1 point for timeframes of 20 working days (or 1 month, 30 days or 4 weeks). Score 2 points for 10 working days (or 15 days, or two weeks) or less.2 NO 14(3): "Upon receiving request for information, the public relation officer, in accordance with sub-article (1): of this Article shall as expeditiously as possible either provide the information requested up on payment of the prescribed fee, or provide a written response stating the reasons for rejecting the request on any of the grounds specified under Chapter Three of this Proclamation notifying the requester his rights of appeal. However the response shall in any case be made not more than thirty working days, of the receipt of the request." 30 working days, 14(3) "<...> However the response shall in any case be made not more than thirty working days, of the receipt of the request."
23 There are clear limits on timeline extensions (20 working days or less), including a requirement that requesters be notified and provided with the reasons for the extension.---2 NO 14(8): "The public relation officer to whom a request for access to a public record is made may extend the period of thirty days referred to in sub article (3) for a further period of not more than 30 working days if - a) the office is congested with many similar requests and the information sought cannot reasonably be provided within the 30 working days; or b) the information required to be retrieved or processed would involve the review of large number of documents and compliance with the request within the prescribed time would unreasonably divert the resources of the public body . c) the request requires a search for records in or collection thereof from, branch offices of a public body located at different cities as a result it can not reasonably be completed within 30 working days;or d) consulation among the different organs or divisions of the public body or with other public bodies is necessary to decide upon the request and that can not reasonably be completed within 30 working days ;or e) the requester declares his agreement in witting for such extension." 14(8) - extension period is too long (30 working days) and has no requirement for notification.
24 It is free to file requests.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 YES 14(4): "Where it is decided to provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed , the public relation officer shall notify the requester in writing the amount of the fees, the manner of payment and request him to pay the fee. The period intervening between the dispatch of the said notification and payment of the fees shall be excluded for the purpose of calculating the period of thirty days referred to in sub article (2)." 14(4) - discussion of fees seems to limit them to being paid upon provision of the information, since notification of fees only comes after the request is processed - but this is something our expert will need to clarify.
25 There are clear rules relating to access fees, which are set centrally, rather than being determined by individual public authorities. These include a requirement that fees be limited to the cost of reproducing and sending the information (so that inspection of documents and electronic copies are free) and a certain initial number of pages (at least 20) are provided for free. Score 1 point for fees being limited to reproduction and delivery costs and set centrally, 1 point for at least 20 pages free of charge or for fees being optional2 Partially 14(12): "The fees payable for access to information in accordance with sub-article (2) of this Article shall not exceed the actual cost of searching, collecting and duplicating the record containing the information provided that no fee shall be charged for requests of personal information or for requests from those who cannot afford to pay." 14(12) fees are not set centrally, are limited to costs incurred but this includes the cost of searching for the information.
26   There are fee waivers for impecunious requesters ---2 YES 14(12): "The fees payable for access to information in accordance with sub-article (2) of this Article shall not exceed the actual cost of searching, collecting and duplicating the record containing the information provided that no fee shall be charged for requests of personal information or for requests from those who cannot afford to pay."
27 There are no limitations on or charges for reuse of information received from public bodies, except where a third party (which is not a public authority) holds a legally-protected copyright over the information. Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.


Exceptions

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28 The standards in the RTI Law trump restrictions on information disclosure (secrecy provisions) in other legislation to the extent of any conflict.Score 4 points for a resounding "yes" and 1/2/3 points if only for some classes of information or for some exceptions. If the state secrets law is not trumped by the RTI law max score is 2 points. 4 YES Art 15(1): "The right of access provided in Article 12 of this Proclamation applies to the exclusion of any provision of other legislation that prohibits or restricts the disclosure of information, provided that this right takes effect subject to the exceptions provided in this Part." 49: " Laws, regulations, directives, orders and practices which are inconsistent with this Proclamation shall, to the extent of that inconsistency, not be applicable." Art 15(1) - "The right of access provided in Article 12 of this Proclamation applies to the exclusion of any provision of other legislation that prohibits or restricts the disclosure of information, provided that this right takes effect subject to the exceptions provided in this Part." To me, the phrase "to the exclusion" means it trumps other legislation, but this is unclear as the translation is ambiguous. Hopefully our local expert can clarify this. Art 49 seems to confirm my interpretation.
29 The exceptions to the right of access are consistent with international standards. Permissible exceptions are: national security; international relations; public health and safety; the prevention, investigation and prosecution of legal wrongs; privacy; legitimate commercial and other economic interests; management of the economy; fair administration of justice and legal advice privilege; conservation of the environment; and legitimate policy making and other operations of public authorities. It is also permissible to refer requesters to information which is already publicly available, for example online or in published form.Score 10 points and then deduct 1 point for each exception which either (a) falls outside of this list and/or (b) is more broadly framed10 Partially 2(8): "“Personal Information” means information about an identifiable individual,includin, but not limited to a) information relating to the medical, educational or the academic, employ- ment, professional or criminal history, of the individual or information relating to financial transactions in which the individual has been involved; b) information relating to the ethinic, national or social origin, age, pregnancy, maritial status colour, sexual orientation,,physicaor mental health, well-being, disability, religion, belief, conscience, culture, language or birth of the individual;" 18(1)(a): "the disclosure of the record would constitute an action for breach of a duty of confidence owed to a third party in terms of an agreement and would likely result a legal action againinst it;" 23(1): "The public relation officer may refuse a request to access information or a request to conform the existance or non existence of an information, if the disclosure or confirmation of the requested information would be likely to cause prejudice to the security, defense and international relations of the country." 24(1): "The public relation officer shall not permit any request for an access to a cabinet record or a request to conform the existence or non existence of information contained in a cabinet record other than those records that are made available to the general public by the decision of the cabinet." 25: "The public relation officer may refuse a request for access to a record of the body or a request to conform the existence or non existence of any information if its disclosure would likely to jeopardize the economic interests or financial welfare of the nation or the ability of the government to mange the economy of the country. 2/ The information referred to in sub-article (1) includes, without limiting the generality of that sub article, information about; a) a contemplated change in , or maintenance of, a policy substantially affecting the currency, coinage, legal tender, exchange rates or foreign investment;" 35: "1/ In so far as the information sought to be accessed or the existence or non existence of which is sought to be confirmed relates to national security, national defense or international relations the head of the public body may issue a certificate certifying that the information falls within the scope of exceptions set out in Article 22 and that disclosure of the information would be almost certain to cause serious harm to national security. 2/ Notwithstanding any provision in this Part, neither the Ombudsman nor any court may review a decision under sub-article (1) to issue a certificate. 3/ Any certificate under sub-article (1) must be tabled in the House of Peoples’ Representatives within 30 days of its issuance and the House may either approve or rescind the certificate." 2(8) - personal information is defined too broadly - including things such as others' opinion about the individual. 18(1)(a) - breach of confidence (overly broad). 23(1) allows officers to refuse to acknowledge information exists if prejudicial to defence/security. 24(1) says officers need not confirm that info relating to cabinet exists. Art 25 - economic interests - officials can refuse to confirm info exists. Art 35 security certificate power is overly broad.
30 A harm test applies to all exceptions, so that it is only where disclosure poses a risk of actual harm to a protected interest that it may be refused. Score 4 points and then deduct 1 point for each exception which is not subject to the harm test 4 Partially 17(1)(a): "The public relation officer shall refuse a request for information if the requested information contains; a) trade secrets of a third party; b) financial, commercial, scientific or technical information, other than trade secrets, of a third party, the disclosure of which would likely to cause harm to the commercial or financial interests of that third party; or c) information supplied in confidence by a third party the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to put that third party at disadvantage in contractual or other negotiations; or to prejudice that third party in commercial competition." 26(1)(a): "the record contains an opinion, advice, report or recommendation obtained or prepared or an account of a consultation, discussion or deliberation that has occurred, including, but not limited to, minutes of a meeting, for the purpose of assisting to formulate a policy or take a decision in the exercise of a power or performance of a duty conferred or imposed by law;" 17(1)(a) - trade secrets. 26(1)(a) - opinions related to the functioning of public bodies.
31 There is a mandatory public interest override so that information must be disclosed where this is in the overall public interest, even if this may harm a protected interest. There are ‘hard’ overrides (which apply absolutely), for example for information about human rights, corruption or crimes against humanity.Consider whether the override is subject to overarching limitations, whether it applies to only some exceptions, and whether it is mandatory.4 Partially 17(2)(c): "about the results of any product or environmental testing or other investigation supplied by a third party or the result of any such testing or investigation carried out by or on behalf of a third party and its disclosure reveals a serious public safety or environmental risk." 28: "Notwithstanding the exceptions in article 15-25 of this proclamation a public body may not refuse a request for information unless the harm to the protected interest which would be caused by disclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure." 17(2)(c) has an extremely limited override, Art 28 provides a more general override but this doesn't apply to docs relating to the operations of public bodies.
32 Information must be released as soon as an exception ceases to apply (for example, for after a contract tender process decision has been taken). The law contains a clause stating that exceptions to protect public interests do not apply to information which is over 20 years old.Score 1 point for each2 NO 39(5): "Information relating to any occurrence, event or matter which took place, occurred or happened more than twenty-five years before the date on which any request is made under Article 14 shall be provided to any person making a request under that article, provided that this sub-article shall not apply to the exceptions in articles 16, 17, 18 and 23." 39(5) contains a limited sunset clause, but it only applies to certain exemptions and the period is too long.
33 Clear and appropriate procedures are in place for consulting with third parties who provided information which is the subject of a request on a confidential basis. Public authorities shall take into account any objections by third parties when considering requests for information, but third parties do not have veto power over the release of information.Score: 1 point for consultation, 1 further point if original time frames must be respected and the law allows for expedited appeals.2 Partially 19: "Where a pubic relation officer intends to disclose any information or record, or part thereof, on a request made under this Proclamation which relates to, or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by the third party, he shall, within 15 days from the receipt of a request, give written notice to such third party of the request and of the fact that he intends to disclose the information or record or part thereof unless he make his protest against the proposed disclosure within 15 days from the date of the issuance of the notice. Any failure to lodge such an objection shall result in bringing about the effects of Article 15(2) (b) and Article 16(2) (b) of this Proclamation." Art 19 has some procedure - but this seems like it's at the discretion of the authority whether or not to contact the 3rd party.
34 There is a severability clause so that where only part of a record is covered by an exception the remainder must be disclosed. Score 1 point if yes but sometimes can be refused (eg: if deletions render meaningless the document) and 2 points if partial access must always be granted2 YES 29: "When a request for access is made to a record of a public body containing information which may or shall be refused in terms of any provision of this proclamation, disclosure of that part of the record which does not contain exempted information may be allowed if it can reasonably be severed from any part that contains such information."
35 When refusing to provide access to information, public authorities must a) state the exact legal grounds and reason(s) for the refusal and b) inform the applicant of the relevant appeals procedures.Score Y/N: 1 point for a and 1 point for b2 YES 14(3): "Upon receiving request for information, the public relation officer, in accordance with sub-article (1): of this Article shall as expeditiously as possible either provide the information requested up on payment of the prescribed fee, or provide a written response stating the reasons for rejecting the request on any of the grounds specified under Chapter Three of this Proclamation notifying the requester his rights of appeal. However the response shall in any case be made not more than thirty working days, of the receipt of the request."


Appeals

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

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Article

Comments
36 The law offers an internal appeal which is simple, free of charge and completed within clear timelines (20 working days or less).Score 2 points if the internal appeal fulfills these criteria, 1 point if an appeal is offered that does not fulfill this criteria, 0 for no internal appeals.2 YES 31: "1/ Any person who is aggrieved by the decision of the public relation officer under this part may lodge his appeal to the concerned head of public body within 30 days from the day the decision is made. 2/ If the appellant can prove sufficiently that he could not lodge his appeal due to force major, the head of the public body may accept the appeal after the lapse of period referred to in sub-article (1). 3/ The head of the public body to which the appeal is lodged shall give a decision with in 10 days. 4/ Any person who is aggrieved by the decision of the head of the public body may lodge his appeal the to Ombudsman within 30 days of receiving that decision."
37 Requesters have the right to lodge an (external) appeal with an independent administrative oversight body (e.g. an information commission or ombudsman). 1 for partial, 2 for yes2 YES Art 31(4): "Any person who is aggrieved by the decision of the head of the public body may lodge his appeal to the Ombudsman within 30 days of receiving that decision."
38 The member(s) of the oversight body are appointed in a manner that is protected against political interference and have security of tenure so they are protected against arbitrary dismissal (procedurally/substantively) once appointed.Score: 1 point for appointment procedure, 1 point for security of tenure2 YES 11: "The objectives of this part of the Proclamation are: 1/ to give effect to the right of citizens to access, receive and import information held by public bodies, subject to justifiable limits based on overridi ng public and private interests; 2/ to establish mechanisms and procedures to give effect to that right in a manner which enables persons to obtain information as quickly, inexpensively and effortlessly as is reasonably possible; and 3/ to encourage and promote public participation, public empowerment, to foster a culture of transparecy, accountablity and effecincy in the functions of public bodies and to encourage and promote good governance." 16: "1/ Any public relation officer, must reject a request for access to a record of the public body if its disclosure would involve the unreasonable disclosure of personal information about a third party, including a deceased individual who has passed away before 20 years. 2/ A request referred to in sub-article(1) of this Article may not be refused if the record consists of information:- a) with respect to which the third party has not protested against disclosure under Article 19 of this Proclamation or has consented in writing to its disclosure to the person who has made the request; b) that was submitted to the public body by the individual to whom it relates and the individual was informed by or on behalf of the public body, before it had been submitted, that the information belongs to a class of information that would or might be made available to the public; c) that has already been publicly available; d) about an individual's physical or mental health, or well- being, who is under the care of the requestor or under the age of 18 years or incapable of understanding the nature of the request, and giving access would be in the individual's best interests; e) about an individual who is deceased and the requester is the individual's next of kin or the requester has secured the written consent of the individual's next of kin; or f) about an individual who is or was an employee of a public body and which relates to the position of functions of the individual, including; the position or status of the individual, the title, work address, office phone number and other similar addreses of the individual, the classification, salary scale, remuneration and responsibilities of the position held or services performed by the individual and the name of the individual on a record prepared by the individual in the course of employment." 17: "1/ The public relation officer shall refuse a request for information if the requested information contains; a) trade secrets of a third party; b) financial, commercial, scientific or technical information, other than trade secrets, of a third party, the disclosure of which would likely to cause harm to the commercial or financial interests of that third party; or c) information supplied in confidence by a third party the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to put that third party at disadvantage in contractual or other negotiations; or to prejudice that third party in commercial competition. 2/ A record may not be refused in terms of sub-article (1) of this Article insofar as it consists of information; a) already publicly available; b) in relation to which a third party did not object to the disclosure under Article 19 or has consented in writing to its disclosure to the requester concerned; or c) about the results of any product or environmental testing or other investigation supplied by a third party or the result of any such testing or investigation carried out by or on behalf of a third party and its disclosure reveals a serious public safety or environmental risk. 3/ The information referred to in sub-article (2)/c/ of this Article may not include the results of preliminary testing of other investigation conducted for the purpose of developing methods of testing or other investigation." Art 11 of the Ombudsmen Act has a relatively good appointments procedure. Art 16 and 17 grant security of tenure.
39 The oversight body reports to and has its budget approved by the parliament, or other effective mechanisms are in place to protect its financial independence.Score 1 point for reports to parliament, 1 point for budget approved by parliament2 YES 32(3): "the Ombudsman shall have powers necessary for it to carry out the tasks and responsibilities given to it under this section and it shall get adequate additional budget necessary for carrying its task from the house of peoples representatives 32(4): "the chief Ombudsman shall submit annual report to the house of people’s representatives on his performance."
40 There are prohibitions on individuals with strong political connections from being appointed to this body and requirements of professional expertise.Score 1 point for not politically connected, 1 point for professional expertise2 Partially Ombudsman Act 12(2) Ombudsman Act 12(2) has a requirement for experience, including legal training or other related experience, but no prohibition on politically connected individuals.
41 The independent oversight body has the necessary mandate and power to perform its functions, including to review classified documents and inspect the premises of public bodies.Score 1 point for reviewing classified documents, 1 point for inspection powers2 Partially 33(1): "In reviewing any appeal under sub-article 31(4), the Ombudsman may examine any record held by a public body, except documents subject to a certificate issued in accordance with Article 35 but, in doing so, shall ensure that any exempt information under this Proclamation is not disclosed." 25: "1/ The public relation officer may refuse a request for access to a record of the body or a request to conform the existence or non existence of any information if its disclosure would likely to jeopardize the economic interests or financial welfare of the nation or the ability of the government to mange the economy of the country. 2/ The information referred to in sub-article (1) includes, without limiting the generality of that sub article, information about; a) a contemplated change in , or maintenance of, a policy substantially affecting the currency, coinage, legal tender, exchange rates or foreign investment; b) a contemplated change in or decision not to change; credit or interest rates, customs or excise duties, taxes or nay other source of revenue, the regulation or supervision of financial institutions, government borrowing, or the regulation of prices of goods or services, rents or wages, salaries or other incomes; or c) a contemplated sale or acquisition of immovable or movable property or a contemplated international trade agreement. 3/ The information referred to in sub-article (2) /c/ includes, without limiting the generality of that sub article, information about an agreement, or contemplated agreement, to transfer any interest in or right to shares in the capital of a public body to any person which is not a public body refereed to in article (2) /4/ of the definition of 'public body 4/ unless the record consists information already publicly available or information about or owned by public body other than the public body to which the request is made, which has consented in writing to its disclosure to the requester, or information about results of any product or environmental testing or other investigations carried out by or on behalf of the public body the disclosure of which would reveal serious public safety or environmental risk, The public relation officer shall refuse access to a record if the record contains; a) trade secrets of the state or a public body; b) financial, commercial, scientific or technical information, other than trade secrets, the disclosure of which would be likely to cause harm to the commercial or financial interests of the state or a public body; c) information, the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to prejudice a public body in commercial competition or to put a public body at a disadvantage in contractual or other negotiations." 33(1) - can review most classified documents, but not those classified under s 35. Art 25 gives them the power to compel testimony and evidence.
42 The decisions of the independent oversight body are binding. Score N=0, Y=2 points2 YES 33(3): "The ombudsman shall have the power to reject any appeal, or to order any public body to provide the requested information or to take such other action as is appropriate to ensure that the public body meets its obligations under this Proclamation."
43 In deciding an appeal, the independent oversight body has the power to order appropriate remedies for the requester, including the declassification of information. 1 for partial, 2 for fully2 YES 33(3): "The ombudsman shall have the power to reject any appeal, or to order any public body to provide the requested information or to take such other action as is appropriate to ensure that the public body meets its obligations under this Proclamation."
44 Requesters have the right to lodge a judicial appeal.1 for partially, 2 for fully.2 YES 34(1): "Any person who is aggrieved by a decision of the ombudsman may lodge an appeal against that decision within thirty days to the Federal First Instance Court in the case of federal public bodies or to the Regional High Court in case of regional public bodies."
45 Appeals to the oversight body (where applicable, or to the judiciary if no such body exists) are free of charge and do not require legal assistance.1 for free, 1 for no lawyer required. 2 YES 32(1)(h): "the manner of lodging administrative appeals;" Articles 22 and 23 of the Ombudsman Act 32(1)(h) - the fact that there's a guide on how to lodge an appeal implies that a lawyer is not required. Art 22 and 23 of the Ombudsman Act confirm this, as well as the fact that complaints are free.
46 The grounds for appeal to the oversight body (where applicable, or to the judiciary if no such body exists) are broad (including not only refusals to provide information but also refusals to provide information in the form requested, administrative silence and other breach of timelines, charging excessive fees, etc.).Score 1 point for appealing refusals, additional points for appealing other violations.4 YES 31(1): "Any person who is aggrieved by the decision of the public relation officer under this part may lodge his appeal to the concerned head of public body within 30 days from the day the decision is made." 31(4): "Any person who is aggrieved by the decision of the head of the public body may lodge his appeal the to Ombudsman within 30 days of receiving that decision." 33: "1/ In reviewing any appeal under sub-article 31(4), the Ombudsman may examine any record held by a public body, except documents subject to a certificate issued in accordance with Article 35 but, in doing so, shall ensure that any exempt information under this Proclamation is not disclosed. 2/ The Ombudsman shall decide any appeal under Article 31(4) within thirty days. 3/ The ombudsman shall have the power to reject any appeal, or to order any public body to provide the requested information or to take such other action as is appropriate to ensure that the public body meets its obligations under this Proclamation." Article 6(2) of the Ombudsmen Act No - 31(1), 31(4), and 33 imply that only refusals can be appealed. However 6(2) of the Ombudsmen Act gives that body the power to investigate any complaints of maladministration.
47 Clear procedures, including timelines, are in place for dealing with external appeals (oversight/judicial).Score 1 point for clear procedures, 1 point for timelines. 2 Partially 33(2): "The Ombudsman shall decide any appeal under Article 31(4) within thirty days." 33(2) gives a timeline of 30 days, but procedures are fuzzy otherwise.
48 In the appeal process (oversight/judicial/) the government bears the burden of demonstrating that it did not operate in breach of the rules.Score Y/N and award 2 points for yes. 2 NO Not mentioned.
49 The external appellate body has the power to impose appropriate structural measures on the public authority (e.g. to conduct more training or to engage in better record management)1 for partial, 2 for fully. 2 YES 33(3): "The ombudsman shall have the power to reject any appeal, or to order any public body to provide the requested information or to take such other action as is appropriate to ensure that the public body meets its obligations under this Proclamation." 33(3) grants broad remedial power.


Sanctions & Proteccions

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
50 Sanctions may be imposed on those who wilfully act to undermine the right to information, including through the unauthorised destruction of information.Score 1 point for sanctions for underming right, 1 point for destruction of documents 2 Partially 39(4): "Any person who with intent to deny a right of access to information in terms of this section; a) destroys, damages or alters a record; b) conceals a record; c) falsifies a record or makes a false record; commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years." 39(4) has sanctions for destroying documents.
51 There is a system for redressing the problem of public authorities which systematically fail to disclose information or underperform (either through imposing sanctions on them or requiring remedial actions of them).Score 1 point for either remedial action or sanctions, 2 points for both 2 Partially 33(3): "The ombudsman shall have the power to reject any appeal, or to order any public body to provide the requested information or to take such other action as is appropriate to ensure that the public body meets its obligations under this Proclamation." Ombudsmen Act gives them some remedial powers as well as a general investigative function, and 33(3) of the information act makes them binding.
52 The independent oversight body and its staff are granted legal immunity for acts undertaken in good faith in the exercise or performance of any power, duty or function under the RTI Law. Others are granted similar immunity for the good faith release of information pursuant to the RTI Law.Score 1 for oversight body, 1 for immunity for others2 YES 39(1): No person is criminally or civilly liable for for anything done in good faith in the exercise or performance of any power or duty under this part of the proclamation."
53 There are legal protections against imposing sanctions on those who, in good faith, release information which discloses wrongdoing (i.e. whistleblowers).Score 2 for strong protections, 1 for moderate protections2 YES 39(2): "No one may be subject to any legal, administrative or employment-related sanction, regardless of any breach of a legal or employment obligation, for releasing information on wrongdoing, or which would disclose a serious threat to health, safety or the environment, as long as he acted in good faith and in the reasonable belief that the information was substantially true and disclosed evidence of wrongdoing or a serious threat to health, safety or the environment." 39(3): "For purposes of sub-article (2), wrongdoing means the commission of a criminal offence, failure to comply with a legal obligation, a miscarriage of justice, corruption or dishonesty, abuse of power or serious misconduct, whether linked to individual wrongdoing or not."


Promotional measures

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
54 Public authorities are required to appoint dedicated officials (information officers) or units with a responsibility for ensuring that they comply with their information disclosure obligations.Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 Partially 2(18): "“Public Relation Officer” mean a public relation officer or any other officer designated by the public body for the purpose of caring out the tasks of a public relation officer under this Proclamation." 2(18) implies this - but does not explicitly state it, and the vagueness of the position means they get 1 point rather than 2.
55 A central body, such as an information commission(er) or government department, is given overall responsibility for promoting the right to information. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES 32(2): "the Ombudsman in addition to the powers and responsibilities given to it by this proclamation shall, to the extent that resources are available, a) monitor the implementation of of this section on the basis of reports submitted to it under article 36 (1), prepare an annual report to the council of peoples representatives b) make recommendations for development, improvement, or reform both of a general nature and directed at specific public bodies c) co-operate in the delivery or undertake training activities for public relation officers on the right of access to information and effective implementation of part three of this proclamation; d) publicize the requirements of this part and the rights of individuals e) with respect to the duty to publish in terms of Article 13 of this Proclamation, determine public bodies which, owing to the nature of their operation, should compile their manuals together or those public bodies which must share the cost of compilation or whose’ cost should be covered by other public bodies. ; f) compile and make widely available a guides and code of practices on how to use this proclamation; g) make recommendations to the house of peoples representatives regarding the development, improvement, reform and/or amendment of this proclamation h) perform such other acts as may be required for the implementation of this proclamation."
56 Public awareness-raising efforts (e.g. producing a guide for the public or introducing RTI awareness into schools) are required to be undertaken by law. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES 13(1)(e): "Any public body shall publish information concerning: a description of the type of the records under its possession, a brief description of the contents of its records and the detailed explanation of the procedures to be followed by persons who wish to access this information;"
57 A system is in place whereby minimum standards regarding the management of records are set and applied. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES 38: "1/ The Ombudsman shall, after appropriate consultation with interested parties, issue and from time to time update a Code of Practice relating to the custody, management and disposal of records. 2/ Every public body is under an obligation to maintain its records in accordance with the Code of Practice stipulated in sub- article (1). 3/ Every public body shall ensure that adequate procedures are in place for the correction of personal information."
58 Public authorities are required to create and update lists or registers of the documents in their possession, and to make these public. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 Partially 13(1)(e): "Any public body shall publish information concerning: a description of the type of the records under its possession, a brief description of the contents of its records and the detailed explanation of the procedures to be followed by persons who wish to access this information;" Art 13(1)(e) requires a "brief" description of documents under the authority's possession.8
59 Training programs for officials are required Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES 32(2)(c): "co-operate in the delivery or undertake training activities for public relation officers on the right of access to information and effective implementation of part three of this proclamation;"
60 Public authorities are required to report annually on the actions they have taken to implement their disclosure obligations. This includes statistics on requests received and how they were dealt with. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES 36(1): "As soon as practicable and not later than 30th of May in each year, the public relation officer of each public body shall submit to the ombudsman, a report regarding the activities of the public body in implementing the provisions of chapter three of this proclamation."
61 A central body, such as an information commission(er) or government department, has an obligation to present a consolidated report to the legislature on implementation of the law. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES 32(2)(a): "monitor the implementation of this section on the basis of reports submitted to it under article 36 (1), prepare an annual report to the council of peoples representatives."