Tips and Warnings Related to International FOIA for Lawyers, Journalists

The Legal Intelligencer: In my work as a transparency law expert, I was tapped to help two countries ensure that citizen access to government records is guaranteed. A team of academia and political scientists from Indiana University sought my help in their work rewriting the Constitution of Myanmar to inject a constitutional right to access government records. In another international effort, I was asked to counsel a team of communications experts as they advised a newly formed country on aspects of records access as part of a free press.

Transparency in government around the world far predates the United States’ efforts to ensure citizens have a right to access the records of their government, which Uncle Sam didn’t pen until 1965. Sweden gets the crowning victory on codifying the world’s first Sunshine Law in 1766. Since then, more than 100 countries around the world have laws guaranteeing citizen access to government records.