Access to Information

Resolution of the IAPA 77 General Assembly Virtual
October, 19-22, 2021

WHEREAS, restrictions on access to information are one of the main limitations to freedom of expression and the public's right to information in Antigua & Barbuda, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, and Puerto Rico, generating a lack of transparency - which is contrary to the democratic principles of accountability of a State

WHEREAS, very often the information obtained from public offices by the media, journalists and citizens in these countries, constitute adulterated, discretionary and arbitrary versions - difficult to corroborate

WHEREAS, in Antigua & Barbuda, some public officials use delaying tactics to disclose information - and others are unaware of the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act

WHEREAS, in Bolivia, a proposed law - if passed - would restrict access to information by giving a government agency the power to decide what information may or may not be disclosed - in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution

WHEREAS, in Canada, severe controls and restrictions continue to be placed on journalists covering public health issues and the government's response to the pandemic

WHEREAS, in Chile - for health reasons - media access to the debates and to the site of the Constitutional Convention was restricted

WHEREAS, in Costa Rica, ministers and officials refuse to issue statements on matters of public interest - restricting access to public information and forcing the media to resort to legal action

WHEREAS, in Cuba access to information continues to be limited as part of the state monopoly on communications

WHEREAS, in Ecuador journalists from El Universo were denied access to information held by the Office of the Comptroller General regarding declarations of assets of government officials

WHEREAS, in El Salvador the government designates as "reserved" information on public matters being questioned for possible irregularities and corruption; and that the Legislative Assembly will study 11 reforms to the Law on Access to Public Information (LAIP) to classify as secret - or reserved - information on illicit enrichment and salaries of public employees, among others, and to impose penalties on any person who fails to comply with the Law

WHEREAS, in the United States there have been cases of restriction on access to information - in which only British reporters were allowed to question British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Washington; and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, limited coverage of the signing of a controversial election law to journalists from the Fox News network; and press access to the courts has been limited on the grounds of concerns about Covid-19

WHEREAS, in Guatemala the government resorts to the strategy of "confidential information" to ignore requests for information from the press, restricting free access to public information - a right enshrined in Article 35 of the Constitution

WHEREAS, in Honduras, the request to reform the "Law for the Classification of Public Documents Related to National Security and Defense" (Secrecy Law) of 2014 - which designates as reserved, confidential, secret and top secret the information held by more than 20 ministries and government entities, violating the right of access to public information and the principle of transparency - remains unanswered by the Executive Branch

WHEREAS in Nicaragua the 2007 Law on Access to Public Information is ignored and requests for information are not answered, and in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic the government cancelled more than 24 legal entities - mostly medical organizations - which are the main sources of information for the press

WHEREAS, in Panama officials do not comply with the Transparency Law and the Ministry of the Presidency approved Resolution 71 - which declares the minutes, notes, files and other records of the discussions or activities of the Cabinet Council, the president or vice-president to be restricted-access information for 10 years

WHEREAS, in Paraguay several state institutions refuse to comply with the Access to Public Information Law of 2014 - and some even seek its repeal

WHEREAS, in Peru, access to information is denied to private media - which have not been allowed entry to official ceremonies

WHEREAS, in Puerto Rico, the media, journalists and citizens have been forced to resort to the courts to force public agencies and government entities to disclose public information

WHEREAS, in Trinidad and Tobago, delays continue to occur in responding to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act

WHEREAS, the 3rd Principle of the Chapultepec Declaration states that: "The authorities should be legally required to make available to citizens - in a timely and equitable manner - the information generated by the public sector"


To reject the restrictions on access to information that journalists and media outlets in Antigua & Barbuda, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago have been experiencing

To urge those countries in the Americas that do not abide by their laws on access to public information or their constitutional, rights to suspend these practices, dismantle the culture of secrecy and refrain from obstructing and restricting the work of the press.