International Right to Know Day Impact Stories

28 September 2016 — National Security Archive

14th Annual Celebration Highlights Access Laws Across the Globe Posts Collection of Year’s Biggest Success Stories
National Security Archive Alert

Washington DC, September 28, 2016 – Today we celebrate the 14th annual International Right to Know Day by highlighting a few of the year’s most impactful news stories that were made possible by people taking advantage of right to know (RTK) laws around the world. 

Some 113 countries have RTK laws on the books that allow citizens to request access to their government’s information. A sampling of stories — selected from a much longer list curated by Toby McIntosh at — made possible by people capitalizing on these laws includes:

  • India’s public records law revealed that thousands had contracted HIV through hospital blood transfusions, and attention from the story forced the government to pledge to improve blood safety screenings and introduce technology to ensure zero HIV transmission.
  • A Pakistani newspaper used RTK laws to show a dangerous lack of doctors in the Punjab, compelling the government to publicly promise to fill the vacancies.
  • FOI data released in the UK showed the extent of near-misses between planes and drones, and the government announced it would introduce new drone regulations in the Modern Transport Bill.
  • The Jamaican FOI law helped citizens hold the government accountable after a building collapse, prompting the government to examine the structural soundness of all building project sites and order developers to address specific issues at the project site before allowing building to resume.
  • Citizens of Malawi capitalized on that country’s RTK law to discover what had become of missing teaching materials, eventually forcing the fraudulent supplier to reimburse all of the stolen funds.

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THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.

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