Happy 2022 – 20 years since the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act was passed and 17 years since the right to receive information has been enforceable.  Developments coming soon!

November 2021 – National Care Service  CFoIS has made its submission to the Scottish Government’s  consultation on the way social care is delivered, available HERE.  CFoIS also produced a briefing on issues that organisations could include when drafting their response –  CFoIS briefing  Whatever new system is constructed, mainstreaming enforceable access to information rights and duties across the system, equally, is essential. Transparency and accountability are key to realising the Feeley Review recommendations.  

Consultations – October 2021

CFoIS has made a submission to the UK Government on matters to address in the UN’s periodic review of UK compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  We focus on the importance of greater transparency and accountability in the private sector’s relationships with public authorities and in procurement for public services and services of a public nature.  The relationships should be covered by the UN’s 31 Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights which include transparency, accountability and public procurement so it is about government keeping existing promises. Read it HERE.

CFOIS has made a submission to the Scottish Government to inform agreement on the ‘terms of reference’ for Scotland’s inquiry into the management of the response to COVID 19.  Read it HERE.

We celebrated International Right to Know Day (IRKD) on  28th September 2021  by joining civil society, globally, in promoting the enforceable right to access information.   CFoIS organised two events to discuss how transparency and accountability in the design, delivery and funding of public services makes Scotland fairer and safer.  The events are attended by the public and private sector along with civil society and the public.

  • The journalist Rob Edwards was the keynote speaker at the Scottish Public Information Forum (SPIF).  He addressed the challenge of ‘COP26: its organisation in Glasgow and  impact on climate change’. 
  • A meeting was held to establish a civil society network on promoting transparency and accountability in the private sector based on the 31 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  This framework has been adopted in the UK and in Scotland.  Meetings will be quarterly and is a sub group of SPIF.  

UNESCO regards 28th September as the annual International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).  The theme for 2021 is to highlight the role of access to information laws and their implementation to ‘build back strong institutions for the public good and sustainable development, as well as to strengthen the right to information and international cooperation in the field of implementing this human right.’

Transparency and Accountability – Legal Reform is Urgently Needed

CFoIS urges all MSPs to support our ‘Call for Action’ and endorse and prioritise delivery of four actions designed to protect and strengthen the public’s enforceable right to access information:

  1. Use current powers under Section 5 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FoISA) to extend enforceable access to information rights to health and social care services delivered by the private sector, particularly care homes.  The Scottish Government held a consultation on the issue in 2019 and published a report on responses in March 2020.
  2. Reform FoISA to ensure the law delivers openness, transparency accountability and empowerment. The consultation process needs to begin urgently, informed by a Scottish Parliament report of May 2020 and from CFoIS of January 2020. Scotland’s new FoI law needs to be in place 20 years after the first – by 2022!
  3. Acknowledge that the right to access information in the public interest is a human right. Consequently the detail of FoISA reform should be informed by human rights law.  The enforceable right to access information must align with the design and delivery of Scotland’s distinctive human rights strategy.
  4. Work with the UK Government to sign, ratify and implement the Council of Europe’s Tromso Convention which provides a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities.

Freedom of Information matters now fall within the remit of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments (SPPA) Committee of the Scottish Parliament.

Please support our ‘Call for Action’ as we want a cross party alliance to ensure FoI law is reformed and fit for purpose.  Download the document here , which includes a report card on the last session’s FoI activity.  Ask your MSPs to commit to the four actions in their Committee work and in the Scottish Parliament Chamber.

21st June 2021 CFoIS has today launched a report detailing its work and focus on drafting a Bill to reform the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FoISA). 

The report’s publication coincides with the fourth anniversary of  the unanimous vote at the Scottish Parliament which registered MSPs concerns about the operation of FoISA. The report is available here. 

Happy 2022.  Tis is a milestone year as it is 20 years since the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act was passed and 17 years since the right to access information became enforceable.  Critically the right is free to enforce and effective supported by rules and an infrastructure in over 10,000 bodies in Scotland.  Watch this space for exciting developments in January 2022. 

Happy 2022!