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New FOIA Act in USA. OSCE welcome legislation that improve transparency

U.S. President Barack Obama signed law S. 337: FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 30, 2016

VIENNA, 4 July 2016 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today welcomed the signing into law of the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) Improvement Act, which would improve current transparency legislation in the United States of America and access to information in the country.

“This legislation signals a strong commitment to increase transparency and prioritize the improvement of access to information for citizens and journalists alike,” Mijatović said. “Access to information is widely recognized as an essential human right, instrumental for media in its ability to gather reliable information. It is also a key OSCE commitment.”

The bill sets out in federal law a presumption of openness, sets a minimum of 90 days for requesters to file FOIA appeals, and makes a number of various other procedural improvements to the Freedom of Information Act 50 years after it was first signed into law. The bill comes in response to an increasing number of requests under the FOIA, in an attempt to expedite the process of requesting information from the federal government.

“With this reform, the U.S. has taken an important step in ensuring that the public be given easier and faster access to information, in line with its OSCE commitments,” Mijatović said.

The OSCE participating States, in their Commitments, have recognized the public’s right to access information and free media as “an essential component of any democratic, free and open society.”

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media has consistently urged all OSCE participating States to adopt and fully implement effective freedom of information and access to information laws. The Representative’s Office also continues to assist journalists in their practical needs through projects such as the publication of a toolkit designed for journalists, bloggers, or any other information professionals who need to access information held by public bodies for their stories.


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