You have a 'Right to Know'
An Edinburgh Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP) has been taking part in an international project which looks at how well national freedom of information laws work in practice.
Abigail Wallace, MSYP for Edinburgh Central, has been assisting the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS) by getting in touch with public authorities to find out whether the right to information is being protected and accessed in real life.
Abigail Wallace, MSYP for Edinburgh Central
In addition to carrying out this research, Abigail has been invited to present her findings at a meeting of the newly revived Scottish Public Information Forum (SPIF) in Glasgow today on, rather fittingly, International Right to Know Day (28th September).
SPIF, revived by the CFoIS, is joining forces with the Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS) to host this event, aiming to raise awareness amongst community organisations, services and individuals of their ʻright to knowʼ.
The ‘right to know’ is very important to the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP), especially given that SYP’s next national campaign – launching in October 2017 – is on young people’s rights.
Today’s event in Glasgow will welcome a number of Scotland’s top FOI experts. Acting Scottish Information Commissioner, Margaret Keyse will introduce the Commissioner’s Annual Report, and CFoIS Convener, Carole Ewart, will release a report on the Campaignʼs work highlighting the need for a review of the Scottish FOI operation.
Central to the agenda will be concerns about how the inquiry and review of the Freedom Of Information (Scotland) Act (FOISA) and the role of the Scottish Government will be carried out. An inquiry into the way the Scottish Governmentʼs responded to requests, and a review of the operation of the Act was called for unanimously by the Scottish Parliament in June. Carole said “There is increasing concern that this inquiry will be foisted onto the Information Commissioner. This would be an evasion of the Governmentʼs commitment and will draw precious resources away from the Commissionerʼs statutory functions. The clear intention was for an independent inquiry to be set up.”
Helen Macneil, CEO at GCVS said: “It’s hugely important that groups, services and organisations understand their rights under Freedom of Information, and how this can be used to help them achieve their goals and hold public agencies to account. As Scotland looks to review Freedom of Information processes and policies, we want to ensure our members and the citizens of Glasgow can fully engage in the process, as FOI benefits everyone.”
Other items for discussion at the meeting will be – designation of new bodies under FOISA, access to information and human rights, and best practice.