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31.10.2011
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Citizens for transparent, accountable and open government

Agenda of the meeting entitled: Citizens for transparent, accountable and open government -  discussion seminar of FOI watchdogs in Central and Eastern Europe. To be held on 23-25 November 2011 /language of the meeting – English, possible translation for Russian speakers/.

watchdog

23 November 2011 – 10.00-18.00

10.00 -11.45  Introduction to the meeting, presentation of participants 

Introduction to the meeting goals and getting to know representatives of the participating organizations /each organization presents its experience in the field of access to information e.g. civic education and information campaigns, monitoring, legal help, strategic litigation/.

11.45-12.00 coffee break

12.00-18.00 Legal solutions and practice /with the lunch break around 14.00-15.00/ 

Introduction to the law on access to public information of different countries – short overview based on the Global Right to Information Rating indicators by Alexander Kashumov, member of the Rating’s Advisory Council (Access to Information Programme, Bulgaria).

In September 2011 the Access Info Europe and the Centre for Law and Democracy released the results of the first Global Right to Information Rating. It comprises all participating countries and consists of 61 indicators grouped into 7 sections. Each section was given a certain weight: Right of Access 6 points, Scope – 30 points, Requesting Procedures – 30 points, Exceptions and Refusals – 30 points, Appeals – 30 points, Sanctions and Protections – 8 points; Promotional Measures – 16 points. 

All of the countries represented at the meeting were subject to the research and their legislation is ranked in the following order starting with the best legislation according to the research to the worst one: Ukraine, Bulgaria, Armenia, Georgia, Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Lithuania. 

The discussion around legislation will be focused on the following questions:

Functioning of the law:

  • Methodology of the research – why such indicators?
  • How effective are different legal provisions in different countries?
  • How certain legal solutions work in practice?
  • What are the lessons learned – what is worth promoting, what is not working?
  • Was the law updated over the last years? How? 
  • What was the influence of civil society organizations on the changes in the law?
  • Did the process of changing the law attract public attention? Why yes, why not?

Who is on guard for the access to information? 

  • Which of the public institutions protect the access to information law?
  • Are there any controls by public institutions regarding access to information?
  • Who monitors how the access to information law works in practice? How important is civil society in this respect?
  • What exactly is monitored?
  • What are the results of all those control and monitoring activities?

How the active informing looks like?

  • Which information should be available on-line? To what extent practice meets the legal requirements?
  • How easy is to proceed data? Are they provided in open formats?
  • Which data are collected in a country?
  • How to lobby for more openness?
  • Is there any successful example of forcing administration to be more active in informing?
  • To what extent independent actors (NGOs, citizens, business, media) make use of the open data and information available on-line.

 

Civic Oversight in practice:

Gergana Jouleva: Access to Information Programme (Bulgaria). Does the administration use the on-line publications?

Ashot Melikyan, Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression (Armenia). Monitoring of government bodies' official sites and evaluation of their information transparency 

 

Conclusions: To what extent the legal provisions concerning access to information are met? To what extent citizens have real access to information? Challenges for the FOI watchdogs.

24 November 2011 9.00-19.15 with a long break between 11.30-15.00

9.00 – 11.30 with coffee break

Education of the public. Is it possible to encourage people to use their rights. How to do that?

The discussion will be inspired by presentation of 3 practices of participants on their education programs. 

 

Education addressed to strategic groups: Gergana Jouleva, Access to Information Programme (Bulgaria), 15 years of systematic and strategic thinking. What are the results?

Mixed groups and mixed forms of education: Jan Kotecký, Oživení o.s. (Czech Republic) Education/cultivation

Education addressed to local residents: Szymon Osowski and Agnieszka Podgórska, the Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (Poland), Making people use their rights.

 

Discussion will be focused on the following questions:

  • Is it possible to make massive education and what is its result?
  • Which are the education channels?
  • Is education of the public (especially to take action) a naïve dream or some strategies do work? Which? What does not work?
  • What is the general interest in using the right to know? Which groups are the most interested?
  • What is the media role? How they educate? How we can educate them?
  • What change we observe over the years in public’s access to information  understanding?
  • What is the role of other activities that we observe in our countries e.g. blogs that are followed and whose authors right on their experience on access to information?

11.30-15.00 Lunch break and discovering traces of changes in Polish access to information law.

15.00-17.00  Direct actions, campaigns

The best way of educating public to take care of their rights can be involving them in the education in practice by taking actions and by giving them experience of making change. 

Discussion will sum up practical experience gained in the field, on 2 examples provided by participants.

Long-term campaigns: Anton Antonenko, DiXi Group (Ukraine), Campaign for the transparent energy policy in Ukraine.

 

Awards: Oldřich Kužílek, Open society p.b.a.(Czech Republic), Open x Close Award

Discussion will be focused on the following questions:

  • To what extent people are prone to take action?
  • Which actions attract more engagement, which are more difficult to take?
  • What is the role of media in actions’ promotion?
  • What are the favorable factors?
  • What is the responsibility of action organizer as regards impact on institutions and society?
  • What should be done if action fails to sustain people’s commitment?
  • How to build constituency for organizations working with access to public information to make it better rooted in the society?

17.00-17.15 – coffee break

17.15-19.15 Open data, internet and new technologies as a way of accelerating and facilitating  people awareness and commitment

The new technologies can have great impact on people’s taking care of their rights. They make people understand the role of information and show what everyone should know. They also help in easy and no-time-consuming action taking. On the other hand they help to organize groups. Open data make usage of new technologies even more effective, trigger off innovation and well-designed information.

The discussion will be inspired by presentation of 3 practices of participants on their on-line watchdog tools.

New technologies facilitate contact with administration. How to effectively make use of them?: Rugile Trumpyte, Transparency International (Lithuania), www.ParasykJiems.lt i.e. Lithuanian version of www.WriteToThem.org. How to make people make use of it? 

Databases for people: 

Giorgi Kldiashvili, Levan Avalishvili  Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (Georgia), Public Information Database - www.opendata.ge

Levon Barseghyan, Council Chairman of Journalists’ Club “Asparez” (Armenia),  Public Information Database www.publicdata.am

How to start using new technologies to educate and engage people – is it a necessity, which channels are the most effective, to which groups?

  • How to reach different target groups through new technologies?
  • What changes are observed since the introduction of new technologies into the practice of the organization?

25 November 2011 9.00-18.15

9.00 -13.00 – with coffee break

Strategic litigation as a tool of enforcing law. Is it also possible to make it a tool of encouraging people to use their rights?

The discussion will be inspired by presentation of 2 practices of participants on their strategic litigation programs. 

Tivadar Huttl, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union TASZ (Hungary), Strategical step toward the recognition of FOIA at the international legal scene.

Cătălina Rădulescu, Centre for Legal Resources (Romania), State secrets under control. (cases related to state secrets and secrets of service)

Discussion will be focused on the following questions

  • What we mean by strategic litigation?
  • What kind of cases we take into account? Philosophy – only clear cases, do we risk, do we take priority areas, how do we choose, how we are supported by big legal firms (if we are); are there other lawyers in a country who know the topic.
  • How we inform people – media involvement, are cases collected to attract media attention, why they write about it
  • Do the strategic cases change understanding what right to know is in the general public.
  • Who are our clients?
  • How we get cases?

13.00-14.00 – Lunch break

14.00 – 16.00 How the organizations and citizens can work for open, transparent and accountable government

The role of media (new and traditional); traditional education, education by experiencing, education with use of new technologies, strategic litigation. 

Meeting evaluation and feedback to Sylwia Sobiepan East East coordinator in Poland.

16.00-16.15 Coffee break

16.15-18.15 Planning for future 

What can be done with the meeting results, what would be useful for different countries. Discussion.

***

Participating organizations:

  • The Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (Poland) – hosting organization
  • Journalists’ Club “Asparez” (Armenia)
  • Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression (Armenia)
  • Ecolur Informational NGO (Armenia)
  • Expert Forum (Romania)
  • Centre for Legal Resources (Romania)
  • Center for Independent Journalism (Romania)
  • Institute for Public Policy (Romania)
  • Oživení (Czech Republic)
  • Open society p.b.a. (Czech Republic)
  • Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (Georgia)
  • Hungarian Civil Liiberties Union TASZ (Hungary)
  • Access to Information Programme (Bulgaria)
  • DiXi Group (Ukraine)
  • OPORA Civic Network (Ukraine)
  • The Institute for Information Freedom Development (Russia)
  • Transparency International (Lithuania)

Contact: dip@lgo.pl

The meeting is funded by the Open Society Foundations and Stefan Batory Foundation

OSF LogoBAtory Foundation

 

Ostatnia modyfikacja: 2011-11-20
Katarzyna Batko-Tołuć
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