Report Analyzes Access in 7 Latin American Countries

24 June 2011

An extensive new report examines access to information policies and practices in seven Latin American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

The report is titled “?Venciendo la Cultura del Secreto. Obstáculos a la implementación de políticas y normas de acceso a la información en la región?” (“Overcoming the culture of secrecy. Obstacles to the implementation of policies and rules on access to information in the region”). The study was organized  by Centro de Archivo, Acceso a la Información Pública y Transparencia (CAinfo).

Using a common methodology, the research was conducted by organizations that monitor the right to information: ADC (Argentina), ANP (Bolivia), Proacceso (Chile), Fundamedios (Ecuador), Fundar (Mexico), IPYS (Peru) and CAInfo (Uruguay).

The project was coordinated by Edison Lanza, director of CAinfo, and was supported by the Right to Information Fund – Open Society Foundations. The investigation was coordinated by a technical team also integrated by the experts Fabrizio Scrollini and Silvana Fumega.

The extensive report contains considerable detail the laws and their implementation leading to a conclusions chapter (not including Mexico). In brief:

 Argentina

In the case of Argentina, the report notes recognition of access to information in the Constitution and in some national and provincial regulations, but cites the lack of a national law as a limitation. A decree on access to information only within the Executive Branch is ineffective, the report says.

Bolivia

In Bolivia, operating under a 2002 regulation for access to public information, but no national law, 56 percent of the requests that were made in the framework of this investigation were not returned. Work on a law appears to be stalled.

Chile

In Chile, the right of access to information is protected by the 2008 Transparency and Access to Information and the report says implementation is successful. The Council for the Transparency of Chile has been shown to be effective as an appeal body. Civil society monitoring of resistance still finds ignorance of the law by officials.

Ecuador

The report says that officials in Ecuador, operating under a 2004 law, exhibit confusion and lack of knowledge of the law, and that a lack of funding doesn’t help. There was a very low level of compliance with statutory deadlines for access to information. The Ombudsman’s Office can not issue binding rulings, the report notes.

Peru

Peru passed its law on Access to Public Information in 2002, but Peruvian citizens are at disadvantage because the law did not establish administrative mechanisms or an appeals body, leaving disputes to be channeled through the courts.

Uruguay

In Uruguay, with a Right of Access to Public Information since 2008, compliance is uneven, according to the report, and implementation by agencies has been slow. The research shows that conflicts over the right of access to information are resolved at first instance in the order of 15 days.

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