IAPA warns of severe problems in the Americas in accessing public information

IAPA Chapultepec Index evaluates institutional performance on this issue

Miami (December 16, 2022) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) warned about the severe problems faced by journalists and media in the Americas in accessing public information. The organization urged governments to suspend practices that obstruct the press's work and citizens' right to stay informed on matters of general interest.

The IAPA General Assembly, held in October in Madrid, Spain, and its Board of Directors, rejected in a resolution the restrictions on access to information and the blocking of news coverage of matters of public interest in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, and the United States.

Although on this occasion, the focus was on these countries, for several decades, IAPA has been paying attention to the importance of societies accessing public information and transparency, issues included in its reports and resolutions. For example, in 2001, IAPA organized in Mexico the "International Forum on Freedom of Expression" on access to information, whose discussions led to the creation of an academic work strategy that presented a draft law. Months later, in 2002, the Access to Public Information Law was approved by Congress. The IAPA then supported and advocated for the adoption of similar statutes in the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America.

IAPA's Chapultepec Index, published from 2020 to now, has tracked the performance of institutional execution on the subject in 22 countries. For its evaluation, the Index analysis references the third principle of the Chapultepec Declaration, which states: "Authorities should be legally obliged to make information generated by the public sector available to citizens in a timely and equitable manner." A summary of the Chapultepec Index details restrictions on access to public information in the Americas.

In the October resolution, IAPA urged "governments to follow the standards and requirements that access laws should contain regarding the duty of publication and maximum transparency, an expeditious process for the delivery of information, a previously established regime of exceptions, the necessary infrastructure to place information that is generated, reasonable fees for requesting and obtaining information and, among others, a regime of sanctions to punish officials and public entities that deny requested information." The IAPA also advocates for States to carry out education campaigns so that citizens know how to submit requests for access to information.

The organization constantly criticizes governments for their lack of compliance with the mandates of access laws. In addition, IAPA has been denouncing the direct and indirect restrictions that authorities impose on journalists by not offering press conferences or interviews and pressuring officials and information sources to refrain from providing information to the press.

IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.