The Obama administration’s emphasis on transparency and public participation in government was echoed in a recent introductory memorandum that Lisa Jackson, the newly appointed administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), circulated to her staff.
This commitment to access principles – a clear deviation from recent EPA precedent – will face an immediate test.
The last few weeks had seen a unique situation in India where the Supreme Court (the Apex Court in the Court) filed a petition before the Delhi High Court against an order passed by the Central Information Commission (CIC).
In just the first full day of his historic Presidency, Barack Obama took significant steps towards restoring transparency and accountability in a government widely criticized for its unbridled secrecy, by signing an executive order (EO) affecting the release of presidential records, and releasing three memorandums, including, one reforming the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and another articulating his administration’s commitment towards openness and transparency in government.
The Kenyan government’s power to undermine the press’ essential role in providing and interpreting access to information has been reaffirmed and strengthened by President Mwai Kibaki, who rang in the New Year by codifying a series of amendments to the controversial 1998 Communications Bill.
“While Press Freedom is a cardinal pillar of democracy,” the President explained, “this is a right that carries with it special duties and responsibilities. Press freedom must therefore be counterbalanced with other freedoms and must at all times take into account the overriding interest and the safety of Kenyans.”