Puerto Rico

PUERTO RICO In Puerto Rico the press works in a climate of freedom. An administrative ordinance limiting access to official documents was finally repealed when the new governor, Pedro Rosello, took office in January. An ordinance has been adopted that establishes reasonable time limits between the request for official documents and their delivery and which permits petitioners to appeal to the courts in case of a dispute or undue delay. In May, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico ruled that legislators must disclose their financial situation. The court was responding to such a plea filed by the daily El Vocero after the legislature rejected a bill that would require legislators to present annual financial statements to the Governmental Ethics Office. As a result of the ruling, newspapers may now go ahead and publish such information. In another action, the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a ruling stemming from a criminal case in Puerto Rico that barred the public and the press from witnessing preliminary hearings in criminal trials. The Supreme Court ruling was handed down in response to a legal challenge by El Vocero, whose reporters have been barred from preliminary hearings of public figures in the local courts.