The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is currently conducting a consultation on its proposals to reform its right to information policy, the Public Communications Policy 2011. An submission to the consultation by CLD concludes that, after important advances at the ADB in 2005 and 2011, the current Draft Consultation Paper can only be described as disappointing. There are few innovations over 2011 and, in the most problematical area, namely the regime of exceptions, there are even some rollbacks.
“The ADB showed important leadership among international financial institutions in the 2005 and 2011 reforms of its information policy”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “If it wants to maintain this tradition, it will need a much bolder vision for the new policy.”
In a disappointing development, the ADB is proposing to replace a limited exception to protect good relations with States and inter-governmental organisations with a rule that gives all third parties a blanket veto over the release of information. Other areas of concern include:
- The lack of any formal commitment to provide assistance to requesters and, instead, a rule that “unreasonable” or “blanket” requests can be rejected.
- No overall time limit for responding to requests.
- Exclusions of whole categories of records rather than protecting interests and other exceptions which do not depend on protecting interests against harm.
- A discretionary and limited rule for disclosing information in the public interest, alongside another discretionary rule for withholding information in the public interest.
- Limited grounds for requesters to lodge appeals.
CLD has called on the ADB to introduce substantial changes to its current draft proposals before finalising the policy.
CLD’s Comments and the ADB Draft Consultation Paper are available at: https://www.law-democracy.org/live/little-progress-in-asian-development-bank-information-policy-proposals/.
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