Monday, April 13, 2009

The first FOI Case supported by the Chinese courts

After the FOI Regulations went into effect, Xu Jianguo, a Beijing lawyer, filed a request dated 1 May 2008 to the Huangzhou District Bureau of Transport for some proactively disclosed information concerning this Bureau’s structure, function and working procedures. The Bureau did not answer Xu’s request, and thus he brought it to court on 2 June. The court judged that the Bureau’s mute refusal was illegal, and this judgment became the first FOI lawsuit which was supported by the court after the FOI Regulations went into effect in China. The Hubei Provincial Legislative Affairs Office thus issued a bulletin to inform all government agencies of this non-compliance, calling on government agencies to comply with the Regulations. One of the officials in this Office questioned ‘why should the agency not disclose the information until the masses take you to court?’ This bulletin may create positive effects on enforcement of FOI legislation.

source: Doudou Tian, ‘The Government Agency Lost its FOI Lawsuit for the First Time’ People’s Daily (Beijing) 10 October 2008, 10.

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