Puerto Rico

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IAPA Midyear Meeting 2017

Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

March 31 – April 3

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In this period there continued the search to achieve a law on access to public information that the Congress keeps voting against. The Chamber of Representatives did not approve the bills that sought to establish the right of access to public information. One of the bills, which appeared to have the support of both main parties, was defeated by a few votes.

The government in power since January 2017 has promised to promote a Transparency Law that respects the principle of right to public information that is only recognized through jurisprudence of the Supreme Court.

The country lacks a statute that deals with the manner and time of achieving the unrestricted access to public information and the production or inspection of public documents. However, the constitutional right to access to public information is endorsed by the courts and any legislative initiative abstains from disrupting what the courts determined in that regard.

Several press organizations got together informally under the title "Transparency Network" with the objective of establishing a dialogue with the government to present a Transparency Law that respects the rights already recognized in law, make it easier for people to have access to public information and encourage transparency in government action.

For the first time the effects are being felt of the case resolved in 2014 by the Court of Justice of the European Union, Google España SL versus Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González, through which there was recognized a "right to digital forget."

Other countries (Colombia, Chile, Canada) have followed up the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union. Although in the country the blueprint of the right is different third parties are beginning to call for a "digital privacy" and that there be eliminated "obsolete data," so that there are not captured (and reported on) different files that the traditional search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing use to report results of searches. So far there is no official determination in the courts regarding this "right" to forget.

The "right to forget," and its recognition by the courts, could signify a serious reduction in the rights to freedom of the press and of expression, to the extent that third parties could pass judgment on what is and is not historically valid and what contents have to be modified or eliminated over time.

The Fiscal Supervision Board has begun to transmit information about its operation (costs, expenses, fees paid and contracting), in response to requests by news media and other press organizations.

Nevertheless, there is no adequate information regarding the government's financial activities. While the members of the fiscal body (and its public meetings) have been accessible by the public and the press the transparency of this body is not ideal and it requires constant requests from the public and the media.

The access of cameras in courtrooms continues to be sporadic, conceded on a case by case basis as requested. For that reason the approval of the requests by the media to transmit legal proceedings, even those of great public relevance, is not guaranteed.

The Supreme Court is working on improving the digital access system of the courts with interviews with the participants in a pilot program.

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