Access to Environmental Information in Thailand

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Access to Environmental Information in Thailand

  1. 1. L/O/G/OStrengthening the Right to Information to Improve PublicHealth and Environmental Quality: STRIPETHAILAND Findings on Access toEnvironmental InformationRegional Meeting: April 29 – May 1, 2013Jakarta, IndonesiaSomrudee Nicro, Ph.D.
  2. 2. ContentsAccess to Water Pollution Info4Introduction to Map Ta Phut1Assessment of the Official Information Act (OIA) 19972Access to Air Pollution Info3
  3. 3. http www beachthailand com thailand-mapshttp www pattayadailynews com en 2009/09/30/76-new-maptaphut-industrial-projects-halted-by-court-injunctionMap Ta Phut MunicipalityRayong Province, Thailand
  4. 4. Map Ta Phuthttp www .mtp.rmutt.ac.th/?page_id=6233 communitiesPopulation: 45,646 people (2008)Area: 144.575 km2Map Ta Phut Complex: Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate Hemaraj Eastern Industrial Estate Padaeng Industrial Estate Asia Industrial Estate IRL Industrial Estate Map Ta Phut Industrial Port
  5. 5. Environmental Impacts
  6. 6. Air Pollution
  7. 7. Source: Eastern People NetworkCoastal Erosion
  8. 8. Water PollutionSource: Eastern People Network
  9. 9. SoilSoil
  10. 10. Health impactsHealth ImpactsSource: Eastern People Network
  11. 11. Air pollution during 1996-97 caused Maptaput Panpittayakarn School to move to anew location
  12. 12. Assessment ofthe Official Information Act(1997)
  13. 13. Constraints / ProblemsOfficial Information Act (OIA)Officials avoid exercising their judgment whetheror not to disclose informationNo instruments or rules put in place for officialsto exercise judgment and thereby ensure safety forthe official courageous enough to disclose theinformation.Section 9(8) of the OIAGovt. agencies often do not understand whetherthe information in their possession are under thescope of Section 9(8).Assessment of the OIA
  14. 14. Constraints / ProblemsRegarding OrganizationalStructure•OOIC is under the PM Office, notindependent.•Large composition of the OfficialInformation Board•OOIC is centralized.Regarding the public•Don’t understand the law•Empathy in exercising their rightsRegarding the Law itself•Difficult to understand•Don’t protect officials who disclose theinformationRegarding the Government•Govt. has no enforcement measures.•Govt’s fear of more people wanting toexercise their rightsImplementation/ ComplianceAssessment of the OIA
  15. 15. RecommendationsShort-term Actions• Govt. needs to set clear policyon enforcement of the OIA.• Provincial authorities should havethe duty to disseminate andpublicize the Act in their provinces.• Govt. agencies should reconsiderfees for photocopying documentand verification of the photocopieddocument.Long-term Actions•Govt. must instruct every govt.agency to publicize the Act seriouslyand continuously.•Change officials attitude to beservice-minded•Revise the OICs structure andimprove its competency•Develop standards and goodinformation management system forgovt. agencies•A Personal Information Act with clearpurposes and procedures should bedeveloped.Assessment of the OIA
  16. 16. AIR QUALITY INFOAccess to
  17. 17. Access to InformationFindingsOral request can’t be used as an evidence to lodge anappeal.Requestors need to know first the scope of duties and authority ofgovt. agency.Having requestors photocopy document by themselves implies thatthe govt. agencies denying the request.Govt. agencies have a concern about the requester’s objectives forfear that it may violate public right under Article 56 and 57 of the 2007Constitution.Requestors do not submit appeal as they do not know therequesting process.Assessment of Air quality pollution control
  18. 18. Access to InformationObjectives for the request may not be locally drivenInsufficient knowledge about the requestedinformationIncurred expensesDifferent interpretations of agencies in enforcingSection 9(8)Assessment of Air quality pollution control
  19. 19. RecommendationsAssessment of Air quality pollution controlAllocate a budget for each govt. agency to facilitatepublic access to informationDevelop a public satisfaction indicators/index tomeasure people’s satisfactionPenalize officials who neglect the requestAgencies, e.g. ONEP, need to reconsider their feescurrently required for document photocopying andverification.
  20. 20. RecommendationsAssessment of Air quality pollution controlRequire project proponents to also submit info toONEP in digital formsAcknowledge digital requests and info as official.All decisions made by Official InformationCommission (OIC) should be categorized anddisseminated on OOIC’s website.In view of AEC, OOIC should propose theimprovement of the law on access to information byaliens
  21. 21. Access to Water Quality Info
  22. 22. Access to InformationTime taken to obtain the information exceeds thatprescribed by the law.Water monitoring covers not all parameters of water qualitySuspicion among community members whether thedischarged water sample was replaced or modifiedThe public or local stakeholders have no access to the infoon monitoring results.Requester received average water quality info, not the infoof the specific dates they requested.When water quality was found to be poorer than standard,no actions were taken against the polluters (facilities orcommunities) or responsible agencies .Assessment of Water quality pollution control
  23. 23. Access to InformationConstraints / Problems Several laws related to water quality are difficult to understand Officials collect water samples during office hours. But facilitiesdischarge pollutants during the nights or heavy rainfalls. Information received from govt. agency does not correspond with therequests, thus wasting time on both sides. Officials who take more than 15 days (as required by law) torespond to a request faces no penalty. Official response is written by legal officials. Some of them maynot understand the reasons for denying the request. Also shortageof legal officials.Assessment of Water quality pollution control
  24. 24. RecommendationsRecommendations (cont.)Integrate all laws on water quality into a legal code.Restructure the role and authority of agency responsible for water qualitymonitoring so that it can impose immediate punitive measures (~US EPA)Provide communities trainings on laws pertaining to public rights toget access to each type of informationRequire every govt. agency to disclose and disseminate information onits website, and monitored by OOICAssessment of Water quality pollution control
  25. 25. RecommendationsRecommendationsOOIC should compile decisions made by the Information DisclosureTribunals which demands govt. agencies to disclose information onwater quality, and categorize and disseminate them to the public.OOIC should compile cases that the Tribunals decided not to have therequested info disclosed and submit them to OIC for review andsetting guidelines or standard.Each agency should develop an info system, including index, andmake it easily accessible to the public so community members knowwhere to go for the info they seek.Assessment of Water quality pollution control
  26. 26. L/O/G/OThank You!
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