Netherlands: Who are the worst?
The Dutch ministry of Economy yesterday received an award for being the most obstructive authority in the Netherlands when it comes to transparency. The Right To Know Day for transparency in public administration was celebrated several places in Europe.
The Dutch Ministry of Economy is the Wob Obstructor of 2010. The “winner” of the anti-award was selected yesterday in the context of the Dutch celebration of the Right To Know Day, which focuses the citizens right to a transparent administration.
The Ministry of Economy according to Bigwobber.nl and Woberator.nl in connection with this summers’ election had given special access to some political parties rather than to others. Journalist Brenno de Winter tried to follow the document trail to figure out, which parties had gotten preferential information, but the WoB request was rejected and the time delay so long, that it was perceived as an attempt to obstruct the news coverage following the election.
It has not been possible to get a comment from the ministry yet.
Other obstructor nominees were two Dutch cities, one had charged money to release documents, another claimed that a WoB request had been sitting in a fax machine for months, according to Brenno de Winter from Bigwobber.nl.
However the Dutch WoB activists also praised the most transparent officials. The shining light award went to an official who had not only improved the information from his police office to journalists after introducing a digital information system. He also invented a fast alert system for the media, so for example local reporters can get an sms alert, when there is a fire in the neighbourhood. Several other good examples were nominated too.
Furthermore they used the chance to publish a website that includes a guideline on how to apply the Dutch WoB via a new website called Woberator.nl.
Wob goes Europe
Another big Right to Know Day event was held in Brussels by the European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros, who deals with complaints from European citizens. More than one third of his workload are complaints about lacking transparency in the EU system , several of which Diamandouros has found to be right.
“It is with a certain degree of concern that I have noted the consistently high number of complaints alleging lack of transparency during the past years. After all, an accountable and transparent EU administration is key to building citizens' trust in the EU,” the ombudsman said in his speech at the Right to Know Day in Brussels.
Selected links from the Right To Know Day 2010
www.Woberator.nl – newly launched website to teach people how to wob in the Netherlands
Legal Leaks published an overview over WoBs, click on Country Information
Read the speech by the European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros or his press-release with a sum-up of his speech
Transparency International published a paper over the differences in European WoBs
Article 19 published an overview over wob-developments in the past year
The magazine Governance published an article about the effect of the British WoB on public administration
The FOI advocates published a map with some of the Right To Know Day activities
Dutch journalist magazine De Nieuwe Reporter published and article about wobbing the EU