Access to Public Information

WHEREAS despite the fact that Argentina, Bolivia, some countries in the English-speaking Caribbean and Paraguay have held debates in their legislatures on access to public information, and to date there does not exist any legislation or policy that is in favor of it WHEREAS in Canada access to public information is continuing to deteriorate, while some sectors have sought legislative action to dismantle the culture of secrecy that the government maintains WHEREAS in Costa Rica a bill for a Law on Informational Offenses, known as a “gag law,” still under debate in Congress, would punish with up to 10 years in prison journalists and members of the public who disseminate information regarded as secret, while a presidential decree imposes onerous fees for accessing public information WHEREAS in Cuba and Venezuela there is no interest in passing a law on free access to public information and the governments have an enormous information and propaganda machinery WHEREAS in Ecuador a new bill for a Communications Law would negatively affect the current law on access to public information WHEREAS in El Salvador the government has not yet named the officials of the Access to Information Institute, created under the 2012 Law on Access to Public Information, whose mission will be to resolve conflicts over the classification and declassification of government information WHEREAS in Nicaragua despite having a Law on Access to Public Information requests for information are not dealt with and the government only provides official information to staunchly supportive media WHEREAS in Panama the government restricts access to sources of public information WHEREAS in Peru a recent legislative decree that regulates the national defense system lessens transparency and access to public information by allowing the government to classify and make distinctions in information by declaring certain topics to be of a secret nature WHEREAS Principle 3 of the Declaration of Chapultepec states “The authorities must be compelled by law to make available in a timely and reasonable manner the information generated by the public sector” THE IAPA MIDYEAR MEETING RESOLVES to call on those countries that have laws on access to public information to comply with their content and application and encourage educational campaigns for the people to be informed and aware of the extent and benefits of such laws to ask Argentina, Bolivia, the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean, and Paraguay to promote legislative debate about laws on access to information and to adopt them to ask the governments of Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela to put an end to practices of secrecy and restrictions of access to public information to call on the El Salvador government of Mauricio Funes to name the officials of the Access to Information Institute to urge all the governments of the Western Hemisphere to respect the public’s right to information through the enactment of and compliance with laws on access.