What's New

  • 24 March 2016

    OAS Rapporteur Emphasizes Access to Info for Women

    The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has called for improved access of information for women and better government data on issues affecting women. The recommendations and considerable supporting research are included in an annual report (in English and in Spanish) from Special Rapporteur […]

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  • 11 November 2015

    OGP ATI Working Group Plans Focus on 4 Countries

    The Open Government Partnership Access to Information Working Group will focus its attention on helping four countries, according to the group’s “co-anchors.” While the working group will continue with a number of activities, including more general support to interested counties, particular attention will be paid to two pairs of countries: Liberia and Sierra Leone; Honduras […]

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freedom of information

Guatemala made a huge leap forward in the struggle for openness and government accountability on September 24, 2008, when Congress passed the Law for Free Access to Public Information. Openness advocates, human rights defenders, and active lawmakers have been promoting the law since the first version was presented to Congress in 2002 and now have an effective tool to promote transparency and combat corruption in Guatemala. The law is set to go into effect in April 2009, when citizens will have the opportunity to exercise their right to know and test the limits of the legislation.

Guatemala’s right to public information is included in the 1986 constitution, but the importance of a transparency law did not enter into public attention or into the political debate until the end of the civil war, when human rights advocates began pushing for official records from the internal armed conflict. The Peace Accords were signed in 1996, officially ending the 36-year internal armed conflict that left an estimated 200,000 dead and another 40,000 disappeared. These numbers were produced by the UN-backed Historical Clarification Commission (CEH), which attributed over 90% of the abuse to government security forces. The findings of the Commission were based primarily on testimonies, forensic investigations, and also US government records released in response to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Commission was given virtually no access to Guatemala’s government files on the war, due to the military’s obstruction of investigators looking for evidentiary records. The longstanding government silence about the war propelled openness advocates to press their case for the passage of a national freedom of information law. Read more >>

LEARN MORE: in-depth overview | news archive | ngos | chronology | further reading | excerpt from Global Survey

NGOs and civil society

Asociación para el Estudio y Promoción de la Seguridad en Democracia – Sedem (The Association for the Promotion of Security and Democracy)

Acción Ciudadana (Citizen Action)

Asociación de Investigación y Estudios Sociales – ASIES (The Association for Investigation and Social Studies)

La Fundación Myrna Mack – FMM (The Myrna Mack Foundation)

Periodismo por el Acceso a la Información Pública: international network of regional journalists and organizations involved in the promotion of access to public information.

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News Archive

  • 11 March 2015

    Women Disadvantaged on Access to Info, Study Finds

    Guatemalan women “face deep inequities in exercising their fundamental right of access to information,” according to a study (in Spanish) from The Carter Center’s Global Access to Information Initiative. At a Feb. 18 stakeholders meeting, participants developed recommendations in response to the findings. The study was carried out in five government departments and Guatemala City. […]

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  • 12 November 2013

    Challenges Faced in Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua

    By Alejandro Martínez This article was published Nov. 11 on the Knight Center Journalism in the Americans blog. After decades of a culture of virtually impenetrable secrecy within the Mexican government, in 2002 Mexico passed the Federal Access to Information and Personal Data Protection Act. Since then, it has become an often-cited model of how other […]

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  • 13 February 2012

    Guatemala Weighs Tighter Hold on Military Information

    By Rachel Hatcher Hatcher is a PhD candidate at the University of Saskatchewan. She is now in Guatemala studying post-conflict public memories and discourses of the civil wars in Guatemala and El Salvador.  The Guatemalan Congress is considering stricter controls on the release of information about military and diplomatic matters. The proposal, first introduced on […]

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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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  • 8 July 2011

    The Case of the Military Logbook of Guatemala

    By Natalia Torres, CELE Senior Researcher Articles on freedom of information in Latin America, written by the Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE) in Argentina, will be a regular feature in See this article Spanish. It is difficult to talk about the evolution of the right to know in […]

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  • 8 July 2011

    El caso del Diario Militar de Guatemala

    Por Natalia Torres, Investigadora Principal del CELE Difícil hablar de la genealogía del derecho a saber en Latinoamérica sin considerar las batallas por el derecho a la verdad, el derecho de familiares de personas desaparecidas a saber qué ocurrió con ellas, cuál fue la conducta estatal, independientemente de las posibilidades de persecucio?n penal. En esta […]

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  • 10 June 2011

    Guatemala Releases Report on National Police History

    The National Security Archives June 8 posted on its website a copy of the report, “From Silence to Memory: Revelations of the Historical Archive of the National Police” (Del Silencio a la Memoria: Revelaciones del Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional), about the role of the Guatemalan police. The report was officially released June 7 […]

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  • 7 October 2009

    Saber Mas: New Report on Access to Information in Latin America

    Open government advocates offer first-hand accounts of FOI promotion in Latin America Latin America’s leading open government advocates recently released a report, bringing together data from 17 countries and offering new findings on the status of freedom of information in the region. The Regional Alliance for Freedom of Expression and Information (Alianza Regional para la […]

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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 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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  • 1 May 2009

    Guatemala’s Transparency Law in Action

    Over 8,000 NGOs and Private Contractors Also Subject to the Law Guatemala City, Guatemala — On April 21, 2009, Guatemala’s Law for Free Access to Public Information went into effect, officially allowing citizens to request information from 1,000 government offices and over 8,000 NGOs that manage public resources. Manfredo Marroquín of the citizen action group Acción Ciudadana […]

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  • 20 March 2009

    Active Duty Chief of Police Arrested for 25-Year Old Political Disappearance of Labor Activist

    Historic Police Archives Key to Prosecution of Former War Crimes Guatemala City, Guatemala — March 5, 2009: A long-awaited break in one of Guatemalas most notorious human rights crimes, Hctor Roderico Ramrez Ros, a Guatemalan police officer, has been arrested in connection with the abduction and disappearance of labor activist Edgar Fernando Garca 25 years […]

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  • 24 February 2009

    US Documents Released Through Freedom of Information Act Requests Introduced as Evidence in Spanish Court Hearing Guatemala Genocide Case

    Related Material from Guatemalan Military Archives Could Be Released Soon Madrid, Spain — Official documents from American and Guatemalan government files were presented as evidence last week in Spains National Courtthe Audiencia Nacionaland turned over to Judge Santiago Pedraz. However, the Guatemalan documentary record remains largely inaccessible, despite rulings by the Guatemalan court and even […]

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  • 13 February 2009

    Guatemala Looks to Mexican Model for Access Implementation

    By Jesse Franzblau Mexico City, Mexico – On January 30, 2009, in a testament to Mexicos frontrunner role in the global transparency movement, Guatemalas Vice President Rafael Espada led an official delegation to lay the groundwork for future collaboration with officials from the Instituto Federal de Accesso a la Informacin Pblica (IFAI), the forward-thinking governmental […]

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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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  • 22 March 2006

    Freedom of Information Laws Added to the Development Agenda

    By Toby McIntosh Riding a wave of transparency, the idea of encouraging Freedom of Information (FOI) laws as part of the development agenda is gaining currency, but slowly. With research and case studies increasingly identifying transparency as a key tool in fighting corruption and facilitating development, more attention is being paid to the development of […]

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  • 5 December 2003

    Information, Consultation, Participation (and the Lack Thereof)

    The Inter-American Development Bank and Plan Puebla-Panama Journalist Wendy Call reports on the controversy over the IDB’s multi-billion-dollar development plan for southern Mexico and Central America, with specific attention to information access, public consultation, and participation of stakeholders (and the lack thereof). On September 17, 2003, a representative of the Inter-American Development Bank in Guatemala, […]

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Constitution (English)
Constitution (Spanish)
Free Access to Information Law (Unofficial English Translation)
Free Access to Information Law (Spanish)
Acuerdo Gubernamental (Spanish)
Accion Ciudadana (Citizen Action, Guatemala)



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.