Miami (September 13, 2023) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has urged the government of Panama to withdraw the proposed new transparency law, considering that it "will hinder journalists and citizens from accessing public information and will shield cases of corruption in public administration."
President Laurentino Cortizo, through the Ministry of the Presidency, presented an initiative prepared by the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (ANTAI in Spanish) to repeal the transparency law in effect since January 2002, one of the first in Latin America.
IAPA President Michael Greenspon expressed that it is "absurd to replace a transparency law that has worked in the country and has allowed for exemplary anti-corruption efforts throughout the region." Greenspon, Global Head of Licensing and Print Innovation for The New York Times added that IAPA joins the demands of several civil and journalism organizations that criticized that "there was no consultation process" to discuss a bill that undermines the attributes of the 2002 law.
Carlos Jornet, President of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and the editor of La Voz del Interior in Argentina, expressed concern about "the growing evidence in the region that governments are resisting guaranteeing the right to access public information."
Greenspon and Jornet recalled that President Cortizo signed the Chapultepec and Salta Declarations in 2020, and his commitment entails maintaining an open and transparent government.
Article 2 of the Declaration of Chapultepec states: "Every person has the right to seek and receive information, express opinions, and disseminate them freely. No one may restrict or deny these rights. "Article 3 states: "The authorities must be compelled by law to make available in a timely and reasonable manner the information generated by the public sector."
Additionally, IAPA praised President Cortizo for meeting with a delegation of representatives from the National Journalism Council (CNP in Spanish) and the Forum of Journalists for Freedom of Expression and Information. Both organizations defended the attributes of the current law, which allows any citizen to request public information directly.
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.