Paraguayan Senate Passes Access Law Amendments

30 December 2013

The Paraguayan Senate has approved amendments to the law on access to public information and government transparency.

The bill would establish new exemptions to the law, according to a Dec. 19 report (in Spanish) in Ultimahora.com. Confidentiality would be granted to information on public security or national defense, information that might prejudice international relations or negotiations and information that could damage the financial stability of the state, among other things.

The bill also identifies information that must be disclosed proactively, such as concerning the organizational structure of a state institution, list of officers and their salaries, and reports on foreign travel. It includes the three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial.

The bill now goes for consideration to the House.

The Access to Public Information Advocacy Group (GIAI) of Paraguay, a 22 organization coalition called Resolution Nº 519 “arbitrary,” saying “it requires that all delivery of official Senate documents to the press be subject to the approval and signature of the Head of the Senate, Senator Jorge Oviedo Matto.”

“This measure is an attempt against fundamental human rights, such as constitutional principles and international instruments signed by Paraguay,” according to a statement posted on the website of the Environmental Law and Economics Institute (IDEA for its acronym in Spanish).

The statement cites international standards and Article 28 of the Paraguayan Constitution also states, in its Article 28, that “public access to information must be free for all.” It says that Paraguay “is one of the few countries in the Americas that do not yet count with norms regulating the access to public information and the state’s transparency.”

Alianza Regional por la Libre Expresión e Información sent a letter (in Spanish) in advance of the vote urging adherence to international standards.

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