International Right to Know Day
International Right to Know Day (September 28, 2013) Background Information
What is ‘Right to Know’ Day?
‘Right to Know’ Day celebrates, once a year, the right of individual access to information held by public bodies and marks the benefits of transparent, accessible government.
International Right to Know Day is marked worldwide each year by over 80 countries including Jamaica by activities that celebrate the public’s right to know. The celebration of ‘International Right to Know Day’ continues to grow globally with the continued growth in the number of countries with access to information laws and public access regimes. The Government of Jamaica guaranteed the right of the public to access official government documents by the passage of the Access to Information Act in 2002.
When is ‘Right to Know’ Day Celebrated?
‘Right to Know’ Day is celebrated every September 28th. It had its start on September 28, 2002, in Sofia, Bulgaria, at an international meeting of access advocates. They proposed that the date be dedicated to the promotion of access to information worldwide.
Where is ‘Right to Know’ Day Celebrated?
‘Right to Know’ Day is celebrated around the world. Over 90 countries have access to information legislation and another 20 to 30 countries are in the process of developing such laws. Countries where ‘Right to Know’ Day has been commemorated include Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, El Salvador, India, Jamaica, Latvia, Mexico, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Peru, Spain, Turkey and the USA.
Who Celebrates ‘Right to Know’ Day?
Everyone has reason to celebrate ‘Right to Know’ Day. Active participants since 2002 have included citizen groups dedicated to democratic principles, students, media, academics, policy makers and governments.
Right to Know Day in Jamaica 2013
The Access to Information Unit engaged in monitoring compliance, public education and training activities regarding the public’s right to know and civil society groups have marked ‘International Right to Know Day’ annually in Jamaica since 2004.
International Right to Know Day marks the recognition of the right of all citizens to access public sector information. This day acknowledges access to information as a necessary tool for the realization of other fundamental human rights, for transparency in the operation of the government and for the participation of Jamaicans in national decision making. In recognition of “International Right to Know Day” September 28, 2013, the Access to Information Unit and the Access to Information Advisory Stakeholders Committee continue to work together to increase public awareness of the Access to Information Act 2002.
The ATI Unit will:
Officially launch the 2013/2014 Access to Information National High School Essay Competition in collaboration with the Access to Information Advisory Stakeholders Committee;
Mount a major Public Expo at the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre;
Launch information rights awareness campaign in the print, electronic and social media; and
Host Open Day across select Government entities.
Why Celebrate ‘Right to Know’ Day?
- Access to information provides individuals with knowledge to address public issues scrutinize government and become active participants in the democratic process.
- Access to information has revealed and clarified the basis for government decisions, disclosed environmental and health dangers and shed light on error, mismanagement and illegal activities.
- Access to information has required improved records management, prompted routine disclosure to information, promoted the duty to assist the public and resulted in better government service and efficiencies.
- Access to information requires vigilance. Beyond simply having access to information legislation there must be a commitment to a culture and spirit of openness. This includes staff and public awareness of access to information principles and appropriate resources for implementation.
- There have been many successes as a result of access to information and there are many improvements to consider.
For more information contact:
Mrs. Tricia Cameron-Anglin
Public Education Manager
The Access to Information Unit
5-9 South Avenue, Kingston 10
The Access to Information Advisory Stakeholders Committee:
C/o Jamaicans for Justice,
2 Fagan Avenue, Kingston 8
Montego Bay: 940-7449