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MoD civilian staff receive injury compensation of £17m in one year

MoD civilian staff receive injury compensation of £17m in one year

Civilian Ministry of Defence staff collected £17million in compensation last year after getting injured on the job. Mishaps reported included a chef cutting his little finger while slicing beef and a man slipping and breaking his ankle after a smoking break.

Details of 137 incidents logged under Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations – as well as the payouts total – emerged yesterday after a Freedom of Information request. Read more

Chris Hughes | The Mirror | 4th April 2013

Grieving parents in Scotland-wide ‘postcode lottery’ over babies’ ashes

The revelation follows a row over the practice at an Edinburgh crematorium, where parents who lost a stillborn baby or an infant who was days old were told there were no remains from such cremations, only to find out years later that ashes had been secretly buried.

Officials at the council-run Mortonhall Crematorium claimed there was nothing left to scatter, but put remains in a so-called “garden of remembrance” at the site.The controversial practice went on for 45 years, only ending in 2011, and its discovery by a child bereavement charity prompted calls for a public inquiry.

But according to a BBC Scotland investigation, the scandal is much more widespread, with evidence suggesting that whether parents receive ashes depends on where they live. A documentary used freedom of information laws to ask councils about local policies on the issue over the past five years. Read more

Auslan Cramb | The Telegraph | 3rd April 2013

CANADA: Change to freedom-of-information law

Meanwhile, city council is also expected to vote on a motion that would make councillor schedules and correspondence accessible through access to information requests.

The motion from Coun. Paula Fletcher calls for the province to make all records of city councillors subject to freedom of information laws, including schedules, work emails and communication with lobbyists.

Mayor Rob Ford’s records are already subject to freedom-of-information requests and in recent months several media organizations have used the law to gain access to his schedule, which he does not otherwise release.

“Unlike the mayor, city councillors cannot have their schedules, work emails or communications with lobbyists accessed through Freedom of Information requests,” the motion states. “Establishing clear, open municipal governments should be a priority for both Toronto and across Ontario. Residents should have the right to know who their elected representatives are meeting with and how they are spending their days.”

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is a provincial law and any changes made to it would affect elected officials across Ontario. Read more

Chris Fox | CP24 | 3rd April 2013

Hollande urged to press Morocco on press freedom

Paris – Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday that it has urged President Francois Hollande to raise press freedom concerns with Moroccan authorities during his visit to the former French colony.

The Paris-based media watchdog addressed a letter to the president, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, saying it was “important that the situation on the freedom of information should be addressed” during Hollande’s two-day visit.

RSF welcomed measures announced by Morocco’s Communications Minister Minister Mustapha Khalfi in November “to reform the media system.”

But the group warned that certain clauses in a draft law amounted to “worrying restrictions on the freedom of the press,” and noted the persistence of “red lines” in a press code that is still under study.

Those red lines relate in particular to the monarchy, Islam and the country’s “territorial integrity,” a phrase used in Morocco to refer to the disputed Western Sahara. Read more

Sapa | IOL News | 3rd April 2013

Court Rejects Justice Department Effort to Enshrine Catch-22 into Freedom of Information Law

A federal appeals court in Washington, DC, rebuffed a clear attempt by the United States Justice Department to further pervert the Freedom of Information Act process.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on May 24, 2011, when it failed to produce documents on individuals at the FEC, who CREW believed were refusing to enforce campaign finance laws.

The lawsuit challenged the withholding of the documents and also the Justice Department’s interpretation of a rule in freedom of information law that requires agencies to communicate a “determination” on whether it will comply with the FOIA request within 20 working days. Read more

Kevin Gosztola | Firedoglake | 3rd April 2013

AUSTRALIA: State’s schools of hard knocks as compensation costs soar

SCHOOLYARD sprains, strains, broken teeth, fractures and bullying are costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. In the past three years, the amount paid out for schoolyard injuries has soared, costing the state more than $2.75 million.

In 2012, 23 public school students received compensation, according to documents obtained by the Herald Sun under Freedom of Information. Four of the payouts were confidential, but the total figure is $957,495.

In 2008, payouts totalled $13,000. Some of the payouts in 2012 were for injuries dating back as far as 2007. Read more

Shelley Hadfield & Katie Bice | Herald Sun | 3rd April 2013

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