Impact | Negative

    Probabilty | Medium

    Civicus Rating | Obstructed

    On November 12, the Transparency Committee recommended to the Plenary of Congress the approval of an initiative to create an autonomous body specializing in the protection of the right of access to information linked to Congress. This recommendation is seen as the first step on the legislative path to creating such a body. Although the bill is ready to be debated by legislators, it is unlikely this will happen before sometime next year.

    The initiative in question was presented in June by legislator José Alejandro De León Maldonado (Podemos), and aims to create a National Office of Access to Public Information modelled on that of the Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS). However, according to the wording that is being pushed by De León Maldonado this body´s key figures would be appointed by Congress, which has drawn criticism from various officials and civil society organizations because of how it could weaken institutional independence. According to the Association of Journalists of Guatemala (APG, in Spanish), “the creation of this new office has a twofold objective: to restrict access to public information and to use data as political booty”.  For his part, Vice President Guillermo Castillo also spoke out against the initiative, arguing that “none of the three branches of government should make decisions about its functioning”.

    Although the promoters of the bill expressed their intention to achieve the necessary consensus to approve the law as soon as possible, the issues that currently make up the legislative agenda of the plenary session have created conflict and led to deadlock. As such, it is not expected this article will be debated this year but rather in the course of 2021.

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