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Lifting the Veil of Secrecy Right to Information Regimes in Emerging and Existing Democracies

A right to information law gives a person a right to demand information from a public body (and in some cases from a private body) without having to say why the information is being sought. Such a right can enhance the transparency of public decision making and decrease the level of arbitrary and ad hoc decision making. It may deepen democracy by facilitating citizen participation in decisions at local, regional and central government levels. A right to information may also help reduce corruption and prevent the abuse of public power. Public power must be used in the public benefit and a right to information regime gives the public the right to monitor the use of public power and resources. Beyond that, a right to information regime has an intrinsic dimension in that these regimes enable citizens to ‘just know’ about public decisions irrespective of whether they achieve a particular outcome or not.

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