OGP in the News – Week of July 3, 2017
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.
This week’s OGP news coverage touched on a wide range of subjects, including continued investigations into spying in Mexico, web access, resource governance in Trinidad and Tobago, tax regulation in New Zealand, and more!
In an interview with El Economista, OGP Deputy CEO Joseph Powell commented on recent investigations into targeted spying activities by the Mexican government against local activists and journalists. The article announced that in order to address the concerns raised by Mexican civil society organizations historically involved in Mexico’s OGP process, the OGP Steering Committee will send two delegates to work with both the government and civil society on developing a roadmap to overcome obstacles to open government reform. Powell reiterated how the situation in Mexico underscores the importance of OGP “now more than ever,” saying, “We urgently need to secure reforms to make governments more open, and the civil society needs to work with governments, even when times are challenging.”
OGP was also featured in one of its smaller member countries, Trinidad and Tobago. With the release of the Natural Resource Governance Institute’s 2017 Resource Governance Index, the Trinidadian news outlet Daily Express reported that the country ranked 14 out of 89 total assessed countries. The country’s relatively high score, particularly in comparison to some of its larger Latin American neighbors, certainly validated the “progressive work done by all stakeholders in implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI),” said Trinidad and Tobago’s EITI Steering Committee chairman Victor Hart. To date, Trinidad and Tobago has published four EITI reports whose findings and recommendations have, according to the article, helped the country fulfill its OGP commitments.
Good news for anti-corruption and accountability advocates came out of Nigeria, where AllAfrica.com announced that the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is awarding $9 million in grants to Nigerian nonprofits as part of its “On Nigeria” initiative. Director of the Foundation’s Nigeria office Kole Shettima explained that the grants are intended to “reinforce and expand the growing network of organizations partnering across disciplines to contribute to a culture of investigation, advocacy, accountability, and transparency.” According to the article, some of the funding will go toward educating civil society organizations about implementing the commitments laid out in Nigeria’s OGP National Action Plan (NAP). Also in Nigeria, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Abubakar Malami promised that alleged disagreements between the Executive and the Senate over political appointments had been amicably resolved in article for Pulse.ng. Malami also stated that the Federal Executive Council approved a National Anti-Corruption Strategy all while commending existing anti-corruption policies, including those made via OGP: “Policy relating to Open Government Partnership and associated policies have all proven (to be) very effective in establishing transparency, accountability and blockage of linkages associated with corruption.”
Some questions about open government best practices arose in New Zealand after the country’s Inland Revenue office decided not to publish 38 submissions made during two open consultations on proposed multinational tax regulations. Stuff.co.nz quoted Labour open government spokeswoman Clare Curran invoking New Zealand’s participation in OGP as she criticized the Inland Revenue’s decision: “We have signed up to an open government partnership agreement and there are requirements for New Zealand to demonstrate it has a real commitment to transparency. This is a test.”
Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, Lanka Business Online highlighted inconsistencies between Sri Lanka’s Press Council Law, which prohibits the publication of certain documents sent to ministers concerning cabinet decisions, and the country’s Right to Information (RTI) Act. According to a report conducted by Verité Research and Democracy Reporting International, “The RTI Act on the other hand contains no restrictions on the publication of information received pursuant to RTI requests.” The article pointed out that access to information is one of OGP’s four core principles to which all participating countries, including Sri Lanka, commit to uphold.
In other news, Devex interviewed Adrian Lovett, the outgoing executive director of ONE Campaign Europe, as he prepares to take on a new role as chief executive officer of the World Wide Web Foundation. Reflecting on the importance of web access in advocating human rights, and its potential for addressing gender inequalities, Lovett also described how the web has significantly increased both the demand for and ability to share data over the last ten years, in part thanks to OGP. He said, “Through initiatives like the Open Government Partnership for example, we’re seeing much more data about governments’ activities being available.”
Last but not least, can you say OGP party? That’s right, on July 19th our 15 subnational pioneers will be sharing their #opengov stories to watch – RSVP here!
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.