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Department of International Law > OAS

Equitable Access to Public Information - September 2013

Department of International Law co-sponsors Conference in San José, Costa Rica to commemorate International Right to Know (or Access to Information) Day.

On September 12, 2013, the Department of International Law (DIL) facilitated organize a Conference in San José, Costa Rica to disseminate and promote access to public information and to share best practices in that area. The Conference took place in the Auditorium of the College of Economic Science Professionals of Costa Rica.

Conference in San José, Costa Rica to commemorate International Right to Know (or Access to Information) Day

The high-level event was organized by the Defensoría de los Habitantes (Ombudswoman's Office), the Office of the First Vice-President of the Republic, the College of Economic Science Professionals, the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy (MIDEPLAN), E-government (Gobierno Digital) and the National Commission for Improving Administration of Justice (CONAMAJ).

The purpose of the Conference was to enhance citizen awareness of the importance of access to public information and of the part played by the exercise of that right in strengthening democratic governance. Thus, the Ombudswoman, Ofelia Taitelbaum, emphasized the crucial importance of access to information for transparency, accountability, and the strengthening of Costa Rican democracy, as well as the importance of coordinating efforts, not only among State institutions but also with the productive sector and civil society organizations, in order to facilitate the full exercise of that right.

For her part, the Comptroller General of the Republic, Marta Acosta, underscored the pressing need of citizens to enjoy free access to all the documents recording the provision of goods and services by public institutions, including the responsibility of the Office of the Comptroller General itself, as the oversight body.

The delegate of the Mexican Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection (IFAI), María Elena Pérez-Jaén, gave a presentation on the access to public information model applied by the IFAI and spoke about the Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information held by Government, which established Mexico as one of the region's pioneers in this field, and about Mexico's experiences with that law.

Mr. Roberto Sasso, President of the Technology Research Club of Costa Rica, underscored the importance of information technology as a powerful tool for achieving transparency and of Costa Rica's digital strategy being promoted by the Technology Research Club. He also mentioned that the aforementioned strategy revolved around the four areas most impacted by technology: productivity, connectivity, education (in and based on technology), and transparency.

Finally, Dr. Dante Negro, Director of the OAS Department of International Law (DIL), gave a brief account of how the issue had been developed within the OrganConference in San José, Costa Rica to commemorate International Right to Know (or Access to Information) Dayization and of the process leading up to and the contents of the Model Inter-American Law on Access to Public Information adopted by the OAS General Assembly in 2010 as a means of encouraging citizen participation, accountability, open government, and integrity in the management of public funds. He pointed out that this Model Law was being used as a point of reference for numerous legislative amendments being undertaken by the countries of the Hemisphere. He also mentioned the DIL's legal cooperation project, sponsored by the Canadian International Cooperation Agency, aimed at helping countries in the Hemisphere develop and enhance their regulatory frameworks regarding access to public information.

Dr. Negro referred finally to the outcomes of the High-Level Workshop on Equal Access to Public Information conducted on September 10 and 11, 2013, in Costa Rica, organized jointly by the DIL, the Office of the Vice-President of the Republic of Costa Rica, and the National Commission for Improving the Administration of Justice (CONAMAJ). This activity forms part of the above-mentioned project and provided a forum for pondering and analyzing Costa Rica's current legal framework regarding access to public information. The forum also helped to identify regulatory and other measures that could improve it.

Links / Documents Related to the Conference:

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