Improve A2I in Thailand by amending the Official Information Act 1997
The Official Information Act 1997 is a core piece of Thailand’s legislation that explicitly prescribes the rights to access official information, however, the criteria used by the state agencies for cataloguing information in term of those allowed to disclosed and not allowed is still unclear. There are many types of environmental information handled by many state agencies. Some are dissiminated widely among the general public such as annual reports on the pollution situation published by the Department of Pollution Control. In some cases, the public faces accessibility problems because some types of information affect private businesses, for example, pollution information and environmental management in industrial plant operations, data on health and sanitation of workers in business establishments, etc.
To elaborate a policy solution, TEI built up a coalition of 36 organization partners and had a consultation with key persons from the Office of the Official Information Commission (OIC) about ways to influence types of information related to environment and public health to be specified in the Section 9(8) of the Official Information Act 1997. Subsequently, we held multi-stakeholder dialogues of 200-300 participants on 9 July and 7 October 2009. The first was to influence types of information related to environment and public health to be specified in the Section 9(8) of the Official Information Act 1997 while the latter was to improve access to environmental information relating to EIA process and to strenthen the amendment process of the Official Information Act 1997. In addition, we published the recommendations or a new draft of the Act and disseminated to the public to help increase knowledge capacity of affected communities to defend their interests in the future.
The OIC meeting, chaired by the Minister to Prime Minister’s Office, already approved in principle of the recommendations submitted by TEI and coalition partners on February 16, 2009. An OIC subcommittee was assigned to consider the implementation of this Article with regard to information pertaining to international agreements and other information that may harm life and intellectual property, and consult relevant agencies who have the requested information for feasible steps towards information disclosure.