Argentinian Deputies Approve Access to Information Bill

19 May 2016

Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies has given overwhelming approval to a law on Access to Public Information.

The vote on the bill presented by Deputy Karina Banfi was 229-4, with one abstention, after five hours of debate, according to media reports (in Spanish) such as ones in La Neuva, Terra, and another, with more detail, in Parliamentario.com.

“We must settle a debt with democracy,” Banfi was quoted as saying.

The initiative now heads to the Senate for final approval and would take effect a year after its publication in the Official Gazette.

The bill applies to all three branches of government, publically owned companies, universities, and the Central Bank of Argentina (BCRA), among others. An amendment included gambling operations.

Any request for information should be met within a period not exceeding 15 working days, extendable by another 15 days in case of circumstances make it difficult to gather the information. Requests may be made electronically.

A number of exceptions are provided, covering proprietary commercial information, confidential information related to defense or foreign policy, information that could endanger the proper functioning of the financial and banking system, information whose release could endanger the life or safety of a person, and information “protected by professional secrecy.”

The bill would create an agency on access to public information, which would adjudicate appeals. The director would be proposed by the President, followed by a public comment period. Removal would require the concurrence of a parliamentary body.

Co-director of the Civil Association for Equality and Justice, Renzo Lavin, said on InfobaeTV that the body lacked sufficient independence.

The bill would create a law to replace Decree 1172, signed in 2003 by former President Nestor Kirchner.

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