Access to freedom-of-information laws is a key way for investigative journalists to unearth stories, a human rights professional Helen Darbishire has told reporters attending BIRN’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting.
With more than 80 countries in the world with access-to-information laws, the right can be used to gather material and write better and more exciting stories, Darbishire, the Executive Director of Access Info Europe, told a group at the school in Novi Sad.
“Human rights mean that you have a right to ask for any government records, in any country,” she said.
“You just write a very simple letter, you mention the name of the law and you ask for the document with information you are looking for,” Helen explains.
There was a case in Britain of the expenses scandal of the members of Parliament. “It was a fantastic news story and it all started with an access of information request,” Darbishire said.
She has also presented a legal leaks toolkit, available online, aimed at helping journalists to file request s for information.