Impact | Negative
Civicus Rating | Obstructed
During the first days of August, the draft of the constitutional reform bill promoted by the ruling party was made public, which seeks to grant constitutional status to the Institute of Access to Public Information and to the Government Ethics Tribunal. The proposal also contemplates the creation of a Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office and the replacement of the Constitutional Chamber – whose members were dismissed by the Assembly in May – by a Constitutional Tribunal. Civil society organizations refused to analyze the proposals on the grounds that the public consultation process undertaken by the Ad Hoc Team in charge of drafting them was not transparent.
The truth is that the proposals contrast sharply with a climate of ever tightening restrictions on the right to access public information, apparent since 2020. In the last few weeks, this trend has seen a fresh expansion in types of legislative information now to be withheld from the public domain sparking further accusations of non-compliance by the legislative Assembly with the Law on Access to Public Information.
Specifically, the Legislative Assembly, controlled by the ruling party, has been accused by civil society organizations since it starting operating on May 1st of breaching the Law in terms of not meeting its legal obligation to update information such as financial statements and the directory of public officials. In addition, at the end of August, the Legislative Branch expanded the types of information to be withheld from the public for seven years to include spending by the parliamentary groups, travel itineraries and salary data, among other information.
In response to the complaints, the legislative body issued on August 28 a statement in which it argues that the update of the index was made in accordance with the LAIP and that “in past legislatures there was no index of classified information”. It also argues that the principle of confidentiality applies to personal data and that the information on travel and nomination of less senior officials will be made public within a period of 30 days.