OGP in the News – Week of January 1, 2018
A weekly round-up of Open Government Partnership (OGP) media coverage around the world. Want to receive OGP in the News directly in your email inbox? Subscribe here.
The end of 2017 and beginning of 2018 saw OGP news out of Nigeria, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and even non-OGP participant Morocco.
2017 closed on a somewhat less than festive note in Nigeria, where the holiday season was marked by a massive petrol shortage. Extrapolating on inequality within Nigeria’s oil sector, journalist Sonala Olumhense said the shortage reflects a “cultural inability to pursue what is right and fair to all” in an opinion piece for The Punch. For this reason, the author expressed some skepticism about the government delivering on its promise to invest funds recently recovered from Switzerland in “social protection programmes.” He noted that senior presidential assistant of Justice Reform and OGP, Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, encouraged civil society and the media to monitor the government to ensure that the funds are spent accordingly. In Vanguard, Ibekaku-Nwagwu was quoted as reiterating this point during a session with media and civil society representatives on implementing OGP commitments. She underscored the importance of non-state actors in advising the government on “how best to tailor public procurement and budgeting to the needs of the people.”
Writing for La Silla Rota in Mexico, Commissioner of the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI), Joel Salas Suarez, outlines the open government challenges facing the country in 2018. Suarez urged the government to take concrete actions to repair ties with the civil society organizations that withdrew from the country’s Tripartite OGP Secretariat following allegations of federal espionage. He also said the country must reinforce and consolidate the open government strategy at the local level. So far, open government reforms have been implemented in 26 of Mexico’s 31 states. The final challenge underscored by Suarez involves creating the 2019 Open Government Metric, which helps citizens understand to what extent open government improves their daily lives and guides policymakers in designing and implementing the most effective open government reforms.
Even a few weeks after its close, the Asia Pacific Leaders Forum on Open Government (APLF2017) continues to make news in Sri Lanka. Excerpts of a presentation made during one of the forum’s panel discussions by Sri Lanka’s Right to Information (RTI) Commissioner and attorney-at-law, Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, were published in Sunday Times Sri Lanka. The Commissioner explained that, since taking effect in February 2017, the country’s RTI law has been used by everyone from farmers seeking information on land permits and patients looking for medical records, to journalists attempting to unveil instances of state corruption. Acknowledging the “brave and persistent use of the RTI Act,” the Commissioner conceded that Sri Lanka is still a long way from achieving a “culture of openness” and the kind of proactive information disclosure embodied in the principles of OGP.
Outside of OGP, Morocco is nearing the final stages of passing its long-pending Right of Access to Information Bill, reported Aujourd’hui le Maroc and Morocco World News. Having passed the House of Representatives in July 2016, the bill is now being reviewed for final adoption by the House of Councilors. The articles noted that this bill would help Morocco achieve the eligibility threshold required to join OGP. It would also validate Article 27 of the country’s constitution, which states that “citizens [feminine] and citizens [masculine] have the right of access to
information held by the public administration, the elected institutions and the organs
[organismes] invested with missions of public service.”
Last but not least, as blistering cold sweeps much of the globe, we travel back to #OGPArgentina where OGP Steering Committee member Nathaniel Heller offered a cheery #opengov motto to keep your spirits warm – “Drink Malbec and open government.”
Of course, we can’t catch everything in our news round-ups, so if you see we’ve missed something or think a particular story ought to be featured, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.