Access to Information

WHEREAS in Argentina the limitations provided for in the decree on access to public information made by the government continue in effect WHEREAS in Bolivia a bill for a law on access to information remains stalled in the Chamber of Deputies WHEREAS in Chile there entered into effect in April the Law on Transparency in Government and Access to Information of Government Administrative Bodies, but which, according to academic research, has so far produced limited releases of the material requested – only 29% – and what is released is of poor quality WHEREAS in El Salvador passage of a bill for a law on access to information submitted to Congress in October 2008 remains pending WHEREAS in Nicaragua there is discrimination against news media with independent editorial policies, who are denied official information WHEREAS in Panama there are difficulties in accessing official information, the Communication Ministry having centralized government agencies’ press releases and there being a requirement that all questions in interviews with officials be put in writing WHEREAS in Puerto Rico restrictions on access to public information have increased, especially those concerning the activities of the Governor WHEREAS in the Dominican Republic a bill was submitted for amendment of the Law on Access to Public Information which would seek to regulate and restrict access to government bodies’ data WHEREAS Principle 3 of the Declaration of Chapultepec establishes: “The authorities must be compelled by law to make available in a timely and reasonable manner the information generated by the public sector” WHEREAS according to the document “Considerations on access to public information legislation,” drawn up by the IAPA in 2004, it is envisioned that “All legislation on access to information should establish the commitment of the government that in the long- and medium-term laws concerning information should be within the framework of openness and transparency” WHEREAS However, there are currently before the Congreso of Colombia at least seven bills seeking to regulate and impose obligations and prohibitions on the news media under general headings regarding minors, rejection of discrimination, ensuring that the truth is told, and cultural values. There is also a series of bills that would restrict advertising in newspapers and other media outlets THE IAPA GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLVES to urge the Argentine authorities to ensure unrestricted access by the public and news media to sources of public information to call upon the Bolivian Congress to again take up debate on the bill for a law on access to information, so as to ensure transparency in government actions to ask the authorities in Chile to strengthen application of the law and the information that is provided to request the Congress of El Salvador renew the debate on the bill for a law on access to information, its passage being regarded as fundamental for the existence of democracy to ask the government of Nicaragua to adhere to the criteria and rules in the Law of Access to Public Information in order to provide and be able to obtain without restriction information concerning government activities to remind the government of Panama that its citizens have a right to request and receive public information, without being required to justify a specific interest to obtain it to urge the government of Puerto Rico to provide fully and transparently the public information required by the media, without resorting to a process of selectively releasing information to call upon the Congress of the Dominican Republic to keep in place the current Law on Free Access to Public Information and reject a proposed amendment that would limit access to information of general interest to ask the authorities of Argentina, Chile, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Panama and Puerto Rico to maintain their commitment to freedom of the press, setting standards and taking actions that require the government to put its information at the disposal of the public to ask the Congreso of Colombia to set aside those bills that would regulate media outlets and impose obligations and prohibitions on them.