Access to Information

WHEREAS the unfettered access of the public and the media to sources of public information is essential to ensuring transparency in government  WHEREAS access to public information remains a major limiting factor in Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Venezuela WHEREAS Argentina, Bolivia, Barbados, Costa Rica, Haiti and Venezuela lack national laws on access to information, a legal void that constitutes an obstacle to journalism  WHEREAS the journalists and members of the public who manage to obtain public information in these countries are often given manipulated, discretionary or arbitrary versions that are difficult to corroborate due to restrictions and a lack of legal protection WHEREAS the Canadian government does not provide information in a timely manner and indiscriminately invokes the phrase “classified information,” and for this reason a proposal is being pursued to amend the Law on Access to Public Information WHEREAS Colombia’s Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information, approved in 2012, has yet to be signed into law WHEREAS access to information in Cuba continues to fall under the government’s monopoly over information and propaganda WHEREAS Ecuador’s Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information of 2004 is inoperative and remains unenforced, a situation even further exacerbated by approval of the Communication Act WHEREAS El Salvador’s Institute for Access to Public Information (IAIP), created by the 2012 Law on Access to Information to settle disputes over the classification and declassification of government information, is now up and running WHEREAS in Nicaragua, despite the existence of the Law on Access to Public Information, requests go unaddressed and the government only provides information to media outlets that are friendly to it WHEREAS Panama’s and Uruguay’s laws on access to information are sometimes undermined by administrative interpretations that hinder the ability to obtain public information WHEREAS the Paraguayan Supreme Court set a precedent on public information when it required Congress to provide information on congressional assets, per diems and appointments, and in Uruguay a trial court judge ruled similarly on a case involving educational records WHEREAS the Freedom of Information Act passed in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in 2003 has yet to be enforced WHEREAS Uruguay’s proposed Law on Accountability, submitted to Parliament in June, would amend the 2008 law on access to information by imposing greater restrictions on requests for information 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 GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE IAPA RESOVLES To demand that countries that have laws on access to public information issue the necessary regulations and enforce these laws, and that they conduct educational campaigns to inform the public and make people aware of the law’s scope and benefits  To request that the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Barbados, Costa Rica, Haiti, Honduras and Venezuela conduct legislative debates on access laws and pursue the passage of laws and regulations on the matter To ask the governments in the Americas that limit or deny access to public information to discontinue these restrictive practices and dismantle their culture of secrecy  To commend the judicial branches in Paraguay and Uruguay for their rulings establishing legal precedents on access to public information; and to express concern over the decision of the Paraguayan Chamber of Deputies to criminalize the constitutionally protected publication of information of a public nature To urge the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to uphold the requirements of the 2003 Freedom of Information Act, so that this law may enter into immediate effect To urge the Uruguayan Parliament to review, and to withdraw from the proposed Law on Accountability, the provisions that would hinder access to public information To urge all governments in the Western hemisphere to uphold the public’s right to information by passing and enforcing access laws.