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  • 17 May 2017

    Two Reports Issued as Brazil FOI Turns Five Years Old

    Two reports released as the Brazilian access law turns five year old reveal both progress and challenges, particularly in states and municipalities. “Evidence shows that the glass is barely half full, if that,” concludes a working paper: “Opacity to Transparency? Evaluating Brazil’s Access to Information Law at 5 Years,” written by Gregory Michener, Evelyn Contreras and […]

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  • 30 June 2016

    UN, LA Rapporteurs Criticize Brazil on FOI Administration

    The United Nations and Inter-American Commission experts on freedom of expression on June 24 expressed their concern about Brazil’s “converting the National Controller’s Office (CGU) into a new Ministry of Transparency, Monitoring and Oversight.” “In recent years, the main progresses made in Brazil in the promotion of the right to information in Brazil greatly benefited […]

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The Access to Information Bill in Brazil is a result of a six years advocacy campaign of civil groups and organizations. The initiative was spearheaded by the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalists (Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo) which organized the First International Seminar on the Right to Access Public Information in September 2003. A number of media and journalist organizations took part in the event, among which the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, Transparência Brasil, ANJ (Associação Nacional de Jornais ) and Fenaj (Federação Nacional dos Jornalistas ). The initiative resulted in the establishment of a coalition of organizations dedicated to the promotion of the right of access to information and the adoption of the respective legislation to guarantee it – the Brazilian Forum for the Right of Access to Public Information.

The initial number of organizations in the Forum was 18. Currently, there are 23 organizations in the coalition.

At the proposal of Transparência Brasil, in 2005 the Public Transparency and Corruption Combat Council, a body to the the Office of the Comptroller General (CGU), formed a Work Group to make an analysis of legal and administrative regulations with the purpose of drafting an access to information bill.

The Work Group consisted of representative of the CGU juridical department, the Federal Public Ministry, the External Relations Ministry, the Association of Brazilian Nongovernmental Organizations (ABONG), the Brazilian Association of the Press (ABI), and Transparência Brasil. The activity of Transparência Brasil was essential for keeping the public debate alive and urging the government to act on the drafted bill.

In 2006, the draft bill was sent to the Council and to the CGU. According to the draft law, public bodies should actively provide to citizens information and documents, and also have a 30 days time period to answer any information request. The answer should include date, place and procedure to access the document asked. In case of total or partial refusal, government should state the reasons. And, there were the possibility of appeal after the refusal.

During the 2006 presidential campaigns, the Brazilian Forum for the Right of Access to Public Information sent a letter to the President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and to the other presidential candidates, asking the access of information draft bill to be sent to the National Congress in 2007. The coalition also demanded the active publication of information about budget and finances of public administration agencies in the Internet and the introduction of proper procedures for records management.

Although President Lula had put the passing of FOI legislation in his electoral campaign, it took him three years after his inauguration for a second mandate to send the access information bill to the National Congress. During that period, civil society groups and professional organizations joined efforts against government regulations for classification of documents.

In the end of 2007, the Brazilian Board of Lawyers filed a direct action of unconstitutionality to the Federal Supreme Court against provisions of the National Archive Policy Law (8.159/91) and the Documents Classification Law (11.111/05), which allowed for uncontrolled classification of documents.[1]

In the beginning of 2008, the Attorney General’s Office also wrote a direct action of unconstitutionality against those laws, arguing that they allow for the unlimited extension of the period of time archives should remain secret. The Forum published an official statement to support the action.

In December 2008, the media undertook the campaign for sending the access to information bill to the National Congress.

In April 2009, the Forum organized the Second International Seminar on the Right of Access to Public Information. The event gathered experts from United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil, as well as government representatives. In the opening ceremony, the chief of staff to President Lula (officially the Minister of the Casa Civil in the Presidency), Dilma Rousseff, said the access of information bill would be sent to the National Congress before the end of April. The proposed legal text would obligate ministries to disclose information on secret archives. The agencies should also state the reasons for classification and make a list of documents subject to declassification. According to the project, there would be a reduction of the period of time files remain secret. The ministry also declared that the new law would not allow the secrecy in matters of human right violation.

On May 13, 2009, the president sent the access of information bill to the National Congress.

Although the bill is a big step forward to guaranteeing the right of access to information in Brazil, FOI advocates warn about the lack of measures for the creation of an independent body to oversee implementation or agency compliance with the law.

The other government initiative for opening to the public was the launch of a website with the secret records from the Brazil’s dictatorship (1964-1985). The National Archive launched the website Memrias Reveladas (Memories Revealed) on May 13, 2009.

[1] Brazilian Forum for the Right of Access to Public Information

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News Archive

  • 23 June 2016

    Regional Alliance Criticizes Move by Brazil Government

    Shifting the administration of the access to information law to a different department is a bad idea, according to a statement (in Spanish) by the Regional Alliance for Free Expression and Information. The responsibility is being moved from the Comptroller General (CGU) to the Ministry of Transparency, Surveillance and Control. The Alliance, a network of […]

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  • 10 September 2015

    Brazil: Transparency for Some, Opacity for Most

    By Marina Iemini Atoji The author is executive manager of Abraji, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism, and runs its training for journalists on Brazilian freedom of information law. She is also executive secretary for the Forum for Access to Public Information, a coalition of 25 entities coordinated by Abraji that successfully lobbied for Brazil’s freedom of information […]

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  • 18 July 2014

    Brazilian CSOs Complain to OGP Steering Committee

    Thirty-three Brazilian civil society groups have asked the Open Government Partnership Steering Committee to look into “difficulties with the Brazilian government.” A secret government committee consistently has rejected civil society proposals according to a July 10 letter. The recently issued second Brazilian national action plan does not include suggestions developed by civil society through a […]

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  • 18 July 2014

    Audit Indicates Weaknesses in Some Brazil Jurisdictions

    By Gregory Michener Dr. Gregory Michener is Associate Professor of Public Administration and Politics at the Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration, Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro (EBAPE/FGV). He also directs the incipient Transparency Audit Network based at the FGV Rio de Janeiro’s School of Law and EBAPE. This article appeared on the Open Government […]

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  • 17 February 2014

    Brazil Making Plans to Monitor New Law

    Brazil is planning to make improvements in managing its new law on access to information, according to a Brazilian official involved in implementing the 2011 law. Brazilian officials are looking to better utilize its computerized request system according to Otavio Moreira de Castro Neves, a Brazilian official in the Office of the Comptroller General who spoke […]

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  • 14 February 2014

    ATI Used in Brazil to Get Access to Water

    This report by Article 19 appears on the Article 19 website here. Freedom of expression and information are key in the battle to fight poverty and improve people’s lives. The availability and accessibility of information promotes transparency, ensures better governance and reduces inefficiency and corruption. Information gives people the opportunity to improve their own lives, participate […]

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  • 15 September 2013

    Brazil Still Considering Release of Article IV Report

    Brazil has yet to release the 2013 annual “Article IV” report on its economy by the International Monetary Fund. “The authorities need more time to consider the publication of the report,” according to a line in the Aug. 30 IMF press release that summarized the report. was told that the disclosure of the report […]

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  • 17 May 2013

    Brazil’s New Access Law Underperforming: Article 19

    One out of three requests for information under the one-year-old Brazilian law were not responded to, according to a new study by Article 19 (English and Portuguese). Satisfactory answers were received 44 percent of the time, the group reported. In addition, it said, the quality of the information supplied was poor, often containing partial information. […]

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  • 1 March 2013

    Brazil Changes Policy, OKs Release of Annual IMF Report

    Breaking its longstanding practice, Brazil in 2012 agreed to the publication of the annual “Article IV” report on its economy by the International Monetary Fund. Brazil has been a hold-out among major economies by continuing to deny permission for the release  of the full report. The IMF publishes a “Public Information Notice” about all the […]

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  • 9 November 2012

    Five ‘Late’ Governments Report on OGP Activities

    Five governments that missed the April deadline to submit their Open Government Partnership national action plans have either submitted plans or are working on them, according to information provided by the OGP to The plans for two of the countries – Azerbaijan and Macedonia – are now posted (look under “related files”). The other […]

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  • 26 July 2012

    Brazil’s Access Law Active, But Problems Still Remain

    By Isabela Fraga Fraga’s article appeared on the Knight Center Journalism in the Americas blog July 23 and is reprinted with permission. It is available in Spanish and Portuguese on the blog. Since the Brazilian Law of Information Access went into effect on May 16, the Brazilian federal government has received 17,516 requests to access […]

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  • 29 June 2012

    10,400 Requests in First Month of Brazilian Law

    Brazil’s Federal Comptroller General has reported that citizens had filed approximately 10,400 requests in the first month in which the new access law has been effective, according to O Fórum de Direito de Acesso a Informações Públicas. Nearly 70 percent of these (7,400) had already been answered, or around 7,400 requests, according to the government date […]

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  • 14 May 2012

    Access to Public Information in Brazil: What Will Change With Law No. 12.527/2011?

    By Marcelo Sarkis Sarkis is a lawyer, Institutional and Governmental Affairs at ALCÂNTARA&HOLSTAD International Consultancy, Brasília – Brazil. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. (Art. […]

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  • 17 February 2012

    OGP and Brazil: Question About Consultation and Participation

    By Greg Michener This article first appeared in Michener’s blog: As co-chair of the Open Government Partnership, in a very few months Brazil will play host to a meeting among more than 50 countries participating in an unprecedented global initiative: a ‘multinational and multi-stakeholder’ effort to improve accountability, transparency, access to information, and greater participation in […]

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  • 21 November 2011

    President Rousseff Signs Access to Information Law

    President Dilma Rousseff Nov. 18 signed into law a Brazilian access to information law. The new law (in English and in Portuguese) will become effective in 180 days. Rousseff vetoed two provisions: a mandatory notification to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in cases when access to information essential to safeguard human rights is denied and another concerning […]

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  • 26 October 2011

    Brazilian Senate Approves Access to Information Bill

    The Brazilian Senate Oct. 25 approved an access to information bill after months of delay during which opponents sought to weaken it. President Dilma Rousseff is expected to sign the bill (in English and in Portuguese), which will implement the right to access provision in the Constitution after eight years of effort to get such […]

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  • 20 September 2011

    Brazil Submits Action Plan for Open Government Partnership

    The Brazilian government Sept. 20 issued its action plan for improving open government. The announcement came in connection with the kick-off of the Open Government Partnership, a multinational effort that Brazil co-chair with the Unites States. The eight core members of the OGP released their plans at an event in New York City. (See related […]

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  • 14 September 2011

    Eight More Countries Join OGP; Aguino Plan Criticized

    Eight more countries have indicated their intention to join the Open Government Partnership – Azerbaijan, Chile, Colombia, Ghana, Jordan, Montenegro, Tanzania and Turkey. OGP membership now stands at 36. The OGP website lists 28 countries that have agreed to participate in addition to the eight founding members. The list is: Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, […]

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  • 2 September 2011

    17 Countries Pledge to Join Open Government Partnership

    Nine countries plus the initial core group of eight have pledged to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a U.S. official told  Sept. 2, bringing total membership to 17. The nine countries that have sent in “letters of intent” are Kenya, Guatemala, Honduras, Albania, Macedonia, Malta, Georgia, Moldova and Slovakia. More letters are expected, […]

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  • 25 August 2011

    OGP Members Begin Work on National Action Plans

    Efforts by the eight conveners of the Open Government Partnership to draft their national “action plans” are slowly emerging, according to a survey. However, in most countries the development of a plan does not appear to involve the wide public consultation called for in the “road map” for OGP aspirants to follow. In the […]

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  • 25 August 2011

    Brazilian Senator Takes Stand Undercutting FOI Bill

    Former Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello, now a powerful senator, has proposed revisions to the proposed freedom of information bill that proponents quickly condemned. His proposals are raising concerns about the bill’s future notwithstanding the support for it by new president Dilma Rousseff. (See previous reports.) International freedom of expression group Article 19 […]

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  • 12 July 2011

    India Withdraws From Open Government Partnership

    By Toby McIntosh On the eve of the kick-off event for the Open Government Partnership, India dropped out, but the show went on, with enthusiastic pro-transparency speeches at a day-long event at the U.S. State Department in Washington. The unexpected pull-out by a country with an international reputation for its strong right to information law […]

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  • 17 June 2011

    Rousseff Does About-Face on Brazil FOI Legislation

    By Greg Michener Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has reversed her support for expedited passage of a Brazilian freedom of information law this week, ceding to senators’ desire to reappraise the law and include weakening amendments. The proposed changes aim to eliminate time limits on how long information can be classified as secret and held from […]

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  • 5 May 2011

    Impeached Ex-President Pockets Brazilian FOI Bill

    By Greg Michener Michener is a Rio de Janeiro-based political scientist currently writing a book for Cambridge University Press on freedom of information in Latin America. E-mail is His blog is A surprising turn of events threatens to derail President Dilma Rousseff’s bid for greater governmental openness and transparency in Brazil. Brazil was on […]

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  • 20 April 2011

    Brazilian FOI Bill Clears Two Senate Panels, One to Go

    The proposed Brazilian freedom of information law cleared two Senate committees April 19, leaving one committee to go in an apparent sprint to meet the Brazilian president’s declared goal of passage by May 3. The bill was passed the committees of Human Rights and Science and Technology and will now be considered by the Committee […]

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  • 18 April 2011

    Rousseff Praise Brightens Outlook for Brazilian FOI Bill

    By Greg Michener Greg Michener is a Canadian, a professor of political science, and lives with his wife Carolina in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is currently writing a book for Cambridge University Press on Freedom of Information in Latin America. More of his work can be accessed at Heartening events and significant setbacks […]

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  • 11 February 2011

    New Group Formed to Press for FOI Legislation in Brazil

    Brasil Aberto (Open Brazil) has been created to encourage passage of an access to public information law in Brazil. Legislation passed the lower house of Congress in April 2010, but has since languished in the Senate where it has been assigned for review to four committees. (See previous report.) The new coalition was formed […]

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  • 15 December 2010

    Court Orders Brazil to Open Files in Human Rights Case

    By Peter Kornbluh and Erin Maskell On Dec. 14, 2010, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights handed down a long-awaited decision in the case of Gomes Lund and others (Guerrilha do Araguaia) vs. Brazil. A landmark decision, this  119-page ruling forces the Brazilian government to publicly accept responsibility for grave human rights violations committed during […]

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  • 8 October 2010

    Brazilian Press Skimps on FOI Coverage, Study Says

    The press “has paid little attention to what is widely believed to be the most important measure in promoting governmental transparency,” a proposed freedom of information law, according to a study by Greg Michener in an article on the blog run by the Knight Center, a U.S. organization supporting journalists. “The relatively weak news media […]

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  • 4 October 2010

    Resistance Seen to Pending Brazilian FOI Legislation

    By Greg Michener International Right-to-Know Day, September 28th 2010, was a quiet day in Brazil, as might be expected considering the generally low press coverage and public profile of the still-to-be-enacted Brazilian access to public information law. Despite being guaranteed by Articles 5 and 37 of the Brazilian constitution, access to public information is not […]

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  • 28 June 2010

    Brazil Advances Access Legislation

    Brazil is moving toward passage of an access to information law, although most observers sy final action won’t occur until after the upcoming electons. A Senate commission June 16 passed the bill, the first of possibly four Senate commissions that need to act. The approval by the Commission of Constitution, Justice and Citizenship  follows House passage, which occurred […]

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  • 9 January 2010

    IMF Barely Modifies Disclosure Policy

    After an opaque review process, the International Monetary Fund January 8 announced modest changes to its disclosure policy, but retained the major impediment to disclosure, allowing governments to prevent release of documents pertaining to their countries. This power prevents the release of more than 10 percent of some of the most important documents about countries. […]

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  • 25 August 2009

    US Torture Files and Access to Human Rights Information

    By Jesse Franzblau and Emilene Martinez-Morales Washington, DC — The US government’s August 24, 2009, release of a controversial CIA 2004 Inspector General report on torture brings new attention to the issue of how information on human rights abuses is treated and should be treated under freedom of information laws. Deadlines set by a federal […]

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  • 19 June 2009

    Lessons from Media Coverage for the Right-to-Know in Latin America

    By Greg Michener In the last year or so, Latin America has been abuzz with news on right-to-know campaigns. But some countries have been buzzing louder than others. Uneven media attention to transparency policy is a global phenomenon with serious implications for institutional effectiveness, especially given the significant connection between news coverage and the strength […]

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  • 19 June 2009

    Closely Guarded EIB Framework Agreements Appear Largely Technical

    The European Investment Bank is proposing to disclose Framework Agreements only with the permission of the country partner, but the agreements appear to be largely technical and legal documents, judging from a very old one supplied by the Bank and a more recent one obtained by The Bank’s reluctance to disclose the Framework Agreements […]

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  • 27 May 2009

    Developments in Brazil

    President Lula da Silva Sends Draft FOI Bill to Congress National Archive Launches Website with Historical Records from Dictatorship Recent developments in Brazil have fueled a growing debate on open government, historical memory, and truth and justice initiatives in the country. On May 13, 2009, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sent a long-awaited draft […]

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  • 19 May 2009

    Freedom of Information Legislation and the Media in Latin America

    By Greg Michener 2008 was a big year for freedom of information movements in Latin America. Three countries passed access to information laws last year (Uruguay, Chile, and Guatemala), officially institutionalizing the publics right to know. Varying degrees of media attention, however, had a significant effect on the relative strength of each law. I have […]

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  • 8 May 2009

    Jimmy Carter Presses for Greater Access to Information in the Americas

    Sao Paulo Gives Jimmy Carter Highest Award in Recognition of Human Rights Former US President Jimmy Carter publicly pressed for widespread support for Brazil’s pending transparency law last week. The government has pledged to pass an access to information law this year, as reported previously by freedominfo. On Sunday, May 3rd, Carter was given the […]

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  • 7 April 2009

    Brazil Pledges to Pass Right to Information Bill

    Lula Government Drafting New Law with High-Level Support; Civil Society/Media Coalition Campaigns for Access to Information International Seminar April 1-2 Opens Public Debate on Proposed Law; First Draft Lacks Independent Agency for Implementation and Appeals Brasilia, Brazil — The Lula government in Brazil last week publicly committed to pass a right-to-information law this year, thus […]

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  • 28 September 2008

    Documenting Access to Information in Latin America: Legal Milestones and Success Stories

    Silvina Acosta – Program Manager, Trust for the Americas Emilene Martínez-Morales – Transparency Programs Coordinator, National Security Archive Washington DC, – The Right to Know made headlines in Latin America during the past year.  Just a few days ago the Guatemalan Congress approved an Access to Information Law. Chile’s Transparency and Access to Information Law […]

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  • 15 February 2008

    IMF Making Little Progress on Release of Article IV Reports

    The International Monetary Fund appears to have reached a plateau when it comes to releasing its key document assessing member countries. Despite its stated intention to make all Article IV reports public, only about four in five is released. About 20 countries still oppose issuance of the annual or biannual report assessing their economic policies, […]

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  • 22 September 2006

    Access to Article IV Reports Remains Major IMF Disclosure Issue

    The major disclosure issue at the International Monetary Fund remains access to its key reports about member countries, the so-called Article IV reports. Although more of these reports are now released–about 83 percent of them–there are still more than 30 countries that legally veto their disclosure. This core of resistance includes some larger countries, including […]

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  • 6 October 2005

    IMF Modifies Disclosure Policy to Address Deletions, Delay

    The International Monetary Fund has taken steps that may reduce the number of deletions made in the publicly disclosed versions of its key reports about member countries, including the significant Article IV reports. The moves come after an internal report found that more than one-third of the published reports “incorporate substantive changes” as a result […]

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  • 24 February 2004

    Parliamentarians Flex Growing Organization, Make Request of Bank

    The chairman of an international group of parliamentarians has asked the World Bank to help assure a larger role for legislatures in setting the poverty-fighting strategies within their countries. The request marks one of the first times the parliamentarians have proposed a significant and specific policy change, according to persons familiar with the group’s history. […]

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  • 1 September 2002

    Analysis of Transparency Issues at the World Bank

    Despite changes made in the World Bank’s disclosure policies, more transparency is still possible. Below is a summary of current transparency issues. To read more about the Bank’s changes made in August 2002, see the policy itself made in 2002. Or read the summary from the Bank Information Center. Areas where improvements could be made […]

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  • 1 June 2002

    World Bank Begins Pilot Programs on Disclosure

    Some 20 countries are about to embark on pilot programs with the World Bank in which they will disclose and disseminate more information than they have in the past – that is, more than what Bank policy currently requires. The exact dimensions of this effort will become clearer once the Bank makes an official announcement […]

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Constitution Article 5, Paragraph XIV, (1988)


Final Draft of Access to Information Law, 219-C, (2003)




Fórum de Direito de Acesso a Informações Públicas (Forum for Right to Public Information)


Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalists)


Transparência Brasil(Brazil Transparency)


Artigo 19


Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais (No More Torture)


Associação Nacionál de Jornais (ANJ)


Federação Nacional dos Jornalistas (FENAJ)




Arquivo Nacional (Brazil’s National Archive)


Memrias Reveladas (Memories Revealed)


Presidncia da Repblica (Presidential website)

measuring openness

Freedom House, Freedom in the World, 2010
(On scale of 1-7, with 1 representing the highest level of freedom and 7, the lowest)

Political Rights: 2
Civil Liberties: 2
Status: Free

Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity Report, 2007
Civil Society, Public Information and Media (rating 1-100):

75 (Moderate)

World Bank, Governance Matters, 2009
(Percentile rank - indicates rank of country among all countries in the world. 0 corresponds to lowest rank and 100 corresponds to highest rank.)

1) Voice and Accountability: 61
2) Political Instability and Violence: 38
3) Government Effectiveness: 55
4) Regulatory Quality: 58
5) Rule of Law: 46
6) Control of Corruption: 58

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index, 2009
(Relates to perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts and ranges between 10 - highly clean and 0 - highly corrupt.)

CPI Score: 3.3



Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.