21 October 2014


WHEREAS in Latin America and the Caribbean there is a favorable trend toward the approval of acts regulating the access to public information and government transparency, namely in Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, St. Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago and Uruguay; WHEREAS despite of this trend, some governments are still reluctant to allow the flow of official information, finding too many exceptions in the law to reject requests for information made by the public and by journalists; WHEREAS Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela do not meet legal constitutional precepts on access to public information and the governors reject the performance of press conferences and interviews in addition to using government media as a tool for propaganda; WHEREAS in Ecuador the Organic Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information dated 2004 is not complied with and in Nicaragua the government does neither respect nor does it comply with the commitments contemplated in the Law of Access to Public Information of 2008; WHEREAS in Canada the national and the provincial governments continue to use legal exceptions to restrict access to information; WHEREAS in United States journalists continue to face obstacles to obtaining the information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the federal agencies reject an increasingly large number of requests every year under national security exemptions; WHEREAS in Paraguay Law No. 5,282 “Free Citizens’ Access to Public Information and Government Transparency” was passed on September 18th and since its enforcement in 2015 it shall force government institutions and officers to disclose the information requested by the citizens, such as salaries, official trips and contracts, among other information which is not labeled as confidential; WHEREAS Edison Lanza, who on October 6th assumed as the Special Reporter for Freedom of Expression of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) stated during an activity conducted with IAPA that laws on access to information are a pending and priority task in some countries of the Western hemisphere; WHEREAS principle 3 of the Declaration of Chapultepec provides: “The authorities shall be legally forced to make available to the citizens in a timely and equitable manner, the information generated by the public sector”, THE IAPA GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLVES To urge those countries that have laws that govern access to public information to ensure their effectiveness by educating the citizens in knowing their rights and in the manners they should request such information; to punish public officers and entities that deny information; and especially, to have the government abide by specific norms so that the classification of information is only an exceptional measure; To request the government of Ecuador to respect the law of access to information overruled by the Communications Act, and to urge the government of Nicaragua to comply with the citizens’ right to know the government management activities, beyond the information provided by the government-run Communication and Citizenship Council; To request the countries that have not yet approved laws of access to public information to promote legislative debates and to emulate the trend in the region which deems that access to information as a fundamental citizens’ right that strengthens government transparency, accountability and confidence in public institutions; To request the Congress of Canada to progress in approving the amendments of the law of Access to Information to strengthen citizens’ confidence in government institutions and to promote greater transparency and credibility of governments’ operations; To request the Congress of the United States of America to progress in discussing the Bill to Improve the Law of Access to Information 2014 to establish guidelines and to restrict among federal agencies the use of exemptions to deny information; To reiterate its satisfaction over the approval of a law of access to information and transparency in Paraguay, and to request from the authorities the creation of an extensive public education campaign so that the citizens are aware of how to use this new mechanism, To request the Special Reporter for Freedom of Expression of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, Edison Lanza, to continue disclosing and disseminating among the Member States of the Organization of American States and civil society organizations the importance of the right of access to information to safeguard other individual and collective rights that characterize healthy democratic systems.