In February 2013, the Centre for Law and Democracy was contacted by the Canadian Press regarding a Memorandum from the Treasury Board disputing CLD’s RTI-Rating of Canada. The Memo makes two key points in defence of Canada’s performance on RTI. The first is that the RTI Rating only measures the letter of the law and not the strength of its implementation and the second is that, notwithstanding problems in the legal framework, Canada’s overall commitment to openness, and to open data in particular, is strong. CLD Executive Director, Toby Mendel, responds to both points and calls for Root and Branch reform of the Canadian Access to Information Act, along with major shifts in official attitudes towards openness.
The 15th Philippine National Congress failed to pass a right to information (RTI) law, despite promises by the Aquino administration – to the Philippine people and in its Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan – to ensure the adoption of this key democratic legislation. The Centre for Law and Democracy and the Philippine based Institute for Freedom of Information have written to the OGP Steering Committee asking it to take action on this signal failure by the Philippine administration to live up to its promises and commitments. Efforts to adopt a right to information law, which continued until the very last minute, were ultimately unsuccessful, in circumstances reminiscent of the similar failure of the previous Congress.
The Centre for Law and Democracy, as part of the International Media Mission to Nepal, has written to Dr Baburam Bhattarai, the Rt. Honourable Prime Minister of Nepal, urging him not to obstruct the murder case against Dekendra Thapa, a journalist who was brutally tortured and then murdered in 2004. From 3-5 January 2013, the police arrested five suspects in the case. However, reports suggest that the Prime Minister has sought to halt the investigation, on the basis that political crimes committed during the ten-year conflict period should, pursuant to the 2006 peace agreement, be dealt with by a truth commission. This is troubling in light of the danger that journalists face in Nepal, with their attackers often enjoying immunity from justice.
CLD signed this letter, alongside International Federation of Journalists, Southeast Asian Press Alliance and Committee to Protect Journalists, protesting the lack of progress made in investigating the perpetrators of the Ampatuan Massacre, which killed 58 people, including 32 journalists. The letter was sent to Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III.
CLD, along with the International Federation of Journalists, drafted this letter to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen protesting the conviction of Mam Sonando, a prominent broadcaster and opposition figure. Mr. Sonando has now been sentenced to 20 years in jail for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
This open letter, signed by CLD along with Southeast Asian Press Alliance, Media Defence-Southeast Asia and Centre for Independent Journalism, urges the Malaysian Prime Minister to commit to adopting a right to information law.
Centre for Law and Democracy, along with Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada and the International Federation of Journalists – Asia Pacific, have drafted an open letter to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to protest the detention of Mam Sonando, an independent broadcaster and prominent critic of Cambodia’s government. CLD believes that Mr. Sonando was arrested for exercising his right to freedom of expression. We call on the Cambodia authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him and to drop all of the charges against him.
Centre for Law and Democracy sent this open letter to the President of the Philippines urging him to stop delaying the passage of the Freedom of Information Act, which has now been under consideration for over two years. The letter was signed by 73 human rights organisations, as well as 15 individuals.
This was issued by the Centre for Law and Democracy after a speech by Newfoundland’s Minister of Justice that criticised a CLD analysis of Newfoundland’s Bill 29, legislation which significantly weakens Newfoundland’s access to information framework. The Minister’s comments dismissed the analysis and attacked the Centre for Law and Democracy as an organisation, as well as deriding several of the nations cited by CLD as having better access frameworks than Newfoundland. CLD Legal Officer Michael Karanicolas also issued a separate open letter to the Minister, available here.
This letter points out that, although in May 2009 the Council of Europe Ministers committed to reviewing their national anti-terrorism legislation and/or practice to ensure that any impact on the right to freedom of expression and information is consistent with Council of Europe standards, no country has yet done so. It asks that Press Freedom and Anti-Terrorism Laws and the follow-up of the Reykjavik Declaration should continue to be an agenda item for the CDMSI and should be put on the agenda of the 2013 Belgrade Ministerial Conference.
Cambodia’s government has issued another draft of the their proposed NGO law. But while some improvements have been made, the problems at the heart of the law remain. CLD and LRWC have drafted an open letter to senior officials in Cambodia’s government offering substantive critiques of the latest version of the NGO law. We hope its recipients in the Cambodian government will take heed of these problems before the proposal is passed into law.
Having previously commented on the need for the Cambodian government to reconsider passage of their draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations, the Centre for Law and Democracy welcomed news that the Ministry of the Interior is inviting representatives of civil society to present comments on its newest (fourth) draft of the Law. CLD, together with Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), took advantage of this consultation to draft a second open letter to the Cambodian government containing a set of recommendations which we hope will be incorporated into the final version of the Law.
The Centre for Law and Democracy and Lawyers Rights Watch Canada have co-authored an open letter to the Cambodian government urging them to reconsider passage of their draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations. The letter points out that the law in its current form violates international standards and serves to undermine the fundamental right of freedom of association. By imposing unduly broad and onerous requirements on all NGOs, the law has serious potential for abuse and is a particularly troubling development within the context of recent reports of administrative and judicial harassment of government critics in Cambodia.
The Centre for Law and Democracy, along with 35 other human rights, media rights, and right to information organisations, signed the following letter calling on the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to ensure that member states fulfill the pledge made at the Reykjavik Ministerial Conference to review how their anti-terror law are impacting freedom of information and freedom of expression in order to ensure that these fundamental rights are not unduly infringed.
A joint letter with Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada highlighting some concerns with the draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations, and calling for the authorities to consider making some changes to the draft so as to bring it into line with international standards.
An open letter from a number of organisations noting that the Legislative Assembly motion to suspend a journalist and calling for his prosecution, along with that of his newspaper, was a breach of the right to freedom of expression and calling on the Speaker to repeal the motion.
A joint letter from organisations participating in the Six Question Campaign highlighting the importance of budget openness to achievement of the MDGs and calling on the MDG Summit to adopt principles on budget transparency.
A letter from the Global Transparency Initiative welcoming indications that it was about to engage in a review of its 2005 Disclosure Policy.
Letter to Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President, Hon. Juan Ponce Enrile, President of the Senate, and Hon. Prospero Nograles, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republic of the Philippines, 23 May 2010
An open letter urging the addressees to do all within their power to ensure the passage of the Philippine Freedom of Information Act before the Congress was dissolved.
An open letter to all Bermuda MPs highlighting problems with the Media Council Bill and asking them not to adopt this legislation.
A letter from the Global Transparency Initiative welcoming the review by the IDB of its Information Disclosure Policy, highlighting problems with the existing policy and pointing the way towards reform.
A letter was about the barring of Mr. Yahia Shukkeir, a well-known journalist and media freedom advocate, from entering the Jordan Media Institute, based on the fact that Mr. Shukkeir had, without prior authorisation, published articles in the media.
Letter to President Rajapakse about allegations that State intelligence units had been compiling information about human rights activists and rating them as security risks, based on their human rights work.