El Salvador Assembly Adopts Access Legislation

3 December 2010

The Legislative Assembly of El Salvador passed a bill Dec. 2 on access to public information, overcoming efforts to send it back to committee.

The measure garnered 55 votes and was supported by the Alianza Republicana Nacionalista and Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (Fmln).

The proposed law would establish a five-person Institute for Access to Public Information to ensure compliance. The members will be appointed by the president.

It defines official information and includes restrictions to protect military secrets, ongoing negotiations  and privacy, according to media accounts. (See a report in Spanish in ElSalvador.com by Rafael Mendoza  Lopez, and another in La Prenza.)

Requests are to be answered within 10 working days if the information is less than five years old.

In addition, the Ministry of Finance would be required to publish monthly reports on the  budget.

Penalties for stealing or publishing confidential information are also established in the bill.

Legislative critics who unsuccessfully urged the bill’s return to committee said the bill would make public some information that should remain secret.

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