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Equal Access to Public Information - March 2015

Workshop on Access to Public Information in Argentina concludes on successful note

The High-Level Workshop on Equal Access to Public Information, jointly organized by the OAS Department of International Law (DIL) and the Argentinean Congress, was held March 10-12 and brought together more than 70 participants, including deputies and their advisers, representatives of civil society, academia, and the private sector to discuss the country's current regulatory framework against the backdrop of the provisions of the Inter-American Model Law on Access to Public Information, its Implementation Guide, and elements that could be used to define a special law in this area.

Workshop on Access to Public Information in Argentina concludes on successful note
© Press - Argentine National Congress

Addressing the opening session were Dr. Jean-Michel Arrighi, OAS Secretary for Legal Affairs; Ambassador Nilda Garré, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the OAS; David Murphy, chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of Canada in Argentina; and deputies Diana Beatriz Conti, María Teresa García, Manuel Garrido, and Julián Domínguez, President of the Chamber of Deputies.

In her remarks, Ambassador Garré noted that “access to information encourages more efficient and effective action by the state, especially in the management of public resources; promotes greater transparency and accountability; and ... is a tool with important implications for the strengthening of democratic governance, for participatory democracy, and for individual and collective self-determination.”

The high-level workshop featured thematic presentations and involved, among other experts, Rosa María Bárcena, Director General of Regulatory Analysis and Evaluation of Information for Mexico’s Federal Institute of Access to Information and Data Protection (IFAI); Suzanne Legault, Information Commissioner of Canada; Gilberto Waller Junior, Ombudsman, Office of the Attorney General of Brazil; María Herminia Funes, Commissioner of the Institute for Access to Public Information of El Salvador; Patricia Guillén, Chief of Good Governance and Transparency in the Secretariat for Public Sector Management, Office of the President of the Council of Ministers of Peru; and José María Viega, professor at the University of the Republic of Uruguay; as well as prominent institutions working on the issue, among them the Legislative Directorate, LED Foundation, Civil Association for Equality and Justice, the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development, Transparency International, the Provincial Public Sector Anti-Corruption and Transparency Directorate, and the Civil Rights and Citizen Power Association.

The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Edison Lanza recalled that the Special Rapporteurship has a mandate to monitor the development of the right of Access to public information and presented a comparative study of the standards held in the region by the authorities in charge of enforcing and implementing this right. He also shared some relevant data from the Rapporteurship’s upcoming 2014 annual report, which has been approved by the IACHR and will be disseminated shortly by the OAS Permanent Council.

Interactive sessions and workshops provided a forum for reflection, analysis, dialogue, discussion, and drafting of recommendations for improving the current legal framework and for examining provisions that a bill may contain. The panel discussions and workshops dealt with the core thematic areas of the Model Law, including the principle of maximum disclosure, information management, the system of exceptions, and the role and functions of information commissions.

Participant after participant thanked the OAS for this initiative, stressing the need to continue holding similar events and to promote the exchange of experiences and technical expertise in countries of the region.

This workshop is conducted pursuant to a General Assembly mandate instructing the DIL to support efforts by member states that so request, in adopting legislative and other appropriate measures needed to guarantee access to public information, particularly for the implementation of the Model Law or for continuing to bring themselves into line with it AG/RES. 2842 (XLIV-O/14) "Access to Public Information and Protection of Personal Data".

The initiative is also part of an OAS-sponsored cooperation project that receives contribution from the Canadian government. Its purpose is to increase the capacity of the Organization's member states in the area of transparency and equal access to public information by disseminating and promoting local implementation of the Model Law on Access to Public Information, which the OAS General Assembly adopted in 2010.

To date, the OAS Secretariat for Legal Affairs' Department of International Law has organized similar events in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and Guatemala.

» For additional information about the Workshop, please visit our Website

» For additional information about Equal Access to Public Information, please visit our Website

» For additional information about the Department, please visit our Website


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