Overview of all FOI Law Around the World – 2011 update

Reprinted with Permission from FRINGE SPECIAL, a biweekly journal with freedom of information news for specialists and researchers, originally published October, 9 2011. More information in the colophon at the bottom of this paper. To contact the author via email – Roger Vleugels and LinkedIn – Roger Vleugels.


  • There are more FOIA lists; in my overview the date on which a FOIA comes into power is the decisive one. Other dates like the one for approval or adoption are also mentioned in my overview.
  • This update has more than 250 improvements.
  • Please feel free to mail me corrections.
  • Please mail me information on FOI request volumes, see bottom of page 2 and page 13-14-15.

Overview of all FOI Laws – 2011


Editor’s note – quoted from the September 20, 2010 version of this guide, by Roger Vleugels:

One of the problems editing this Overview is that there is no good definition of a FOIA. The working definition I use includes: it has to be a law in strict sense, a right of access, with complaint and appeal possibilities [decrees are included if they have true complaint and appeal possibilities]. So in this list are also very poor FOIAs, like those of for instance Italy and Zimbabwe. A second important part of the definition, and in line with the practitioners point of view, is that the FOIA must be in power for at least the executive part of the trias politica.

88 countries do have a FOIA in power.

  • 7 more than in last years update: El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guinea-Conakry, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Tunisia.

Country 89 – Malaysia

  • In the section with the sub-national FOIAs a lot of improvements among them the FOIA of Selangor, a state of Malaysia which itself has no FOIA in power.

Africa is catching up – Europe: a stand still.

  • Most of the new countries are African ones.
  • The black spots in Europe [Luxembourg, Malta, Spain and some smaller entities] remain black, although there are some hopeful signs in Spain.

100 FOIA countries within 2-3 years

  • About a dozen countries do have a serious draft or even an already adopted/approved FOI law, see the B section, so it is safe to say that within 2-3 years in 100 countries FOIAs will be in effect.

Positive and negative

  • Several countries are moved from the C to the B section and some are downgraded from the B to the C section.
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