El Salvador


Reunión de Medio Año

Puebla, México

8 al 11 de marzo del 2013

The aspect of press freedom of most concern is the attempt by several political parties to eliminate powers under the Law on Access to Public Information (LAIP), passed in May 2012. During the early hours of February 8 Congressmen belonging to the political parties FMLN (governing), PCN and GANA jointly voted to achieve a simple majority in Congress, introducing in an irregular fashion a package of reforms of several articles in the law which they approved without notice or prior discussion, with none of the other political parties (ARENA, PDC, CD), nor any sector of civil society. Of the series of reforms one of most concern was the elimination of paragraph “g” of the law’s Article 58, which referred to the ability that the Access to Information Institute had to “resolve controversies in regard to the classification and de-classification of confidential information.” The Institute was created to decide in those cases in which the institution does not want for some reason to divulge information requested by some member of the public. The reforms came a few days after the Constitutional Tribunal publicly pressured the El Salvador President to name the members of the Access to Information Institute. Following the reforms there was an avalanche of criticisms of the legislators’ decision, among them those from the IAPA and other civil society organizations and churches. On February 14, the El Salvador President received from Congress the legislative decree with the reforms and in a matter of hours returned them with his veto. Still awaited is for the President to name the Access to Information Institute office holders so that the law can enter into force. On January 30, it was announced that the Congress Steering Committee had denied making public the expenses that it incurred in December last year in purchasing Christmas gifts for the members of Congress and works of art. The denial of the information came after a request by the Anti-Corruption Legal Assessment Center (ALAC), a dependency of the National Foundation for Development (FUNDE), an NGO that in addition has the representation of Transparency International (TI). In a press release the ALAC assured that Congress’s Public Information Office (OIP) had informed it that the steering committee’s agreement, in which was authorized the purchase of Christmas gifts towards the end of the previous year, was of a confidential nature, as “it contains sensitive personal details, as are personal names.” On February 20, the ALAC announced that given the Access to Public Information Institute’s failure, it will file an appeal with the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Tribunal.