The Public's Right to Know - Principles on Freedom of Information Legislation

Information is the oxygen of democracy. If people do not know what is happening in their society, if the actions of those who rule them are hidden, then they cannot take a meaningful part in the affairs of that society. But information is not just a necessity for people – it is an essential part of good government. Bad government needs secrecy to survive. It allows inefficiency, wastefulness and corruption to thrive. As Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize-winning economist has observed, there has not been a substantial famine in a country with a democratic form of government and a relatively free press. Information allows people to scrutinise the actions of a government and is the basis for proper, informed debate of those actions.