• Access Info Europe and Fundación Ciudadana Civio present the report Tuderechoasaber.es 2012, which analyses the information requests sent to the institutions from this webpage.
• Only 13% of the questions obtained requested information from the institutions (75 of 567).
• The future Transparency Law is insufficient and will not improve access to information in practice
Madrid, 9 April 2013 – One year after the entry into the political agenda of the Transparency Law (the draft was presented on March 26, 2012), and approaching the deadline to amend it in Congress, citizens still have not received appropriate attention from institutions. According to the 2012 report from tuderechoasaber.es (read the report in Spanish online), at present: over half of the requests have still not received a response (54%); while only 13% of all applications have received the information requested. The report has been published today by Access Info Europe and the Fundación Ciudadana Civio.
The report is based on an analysis of 567 information requests sent through the platform tuderechoasaber.es between March 20 and December 31, 2012, of which a total of 306 requests (54%) have not yet received any reply. In addition, 46% of the responses to information requests were insufficient, and 14% received an incomplete or inadequate answer or were rejected. In 12% of cases, the institutions claimed to not possess the requested information and 7% of responses were referred to a form, a clearly restrictive measure.
‘If improvements are not introduced, the Bill that will emerge from Congress will provide no new guarantees to citizens”, assesses Victoria Anderica, Coordinator of campaigns for Access Info Europe. “Poor results will be repeated for yet another year and the future law, in addition to excluding a lot of information and many institutions from its scope, does not provide any measures for implementation. It is the same thing that happened with the law on access to environmental information and in this report we can see the consequences: 58% administrative silence”, says Anderica.
Despite having a rule in force that should guarantee the right of access to environmental information (with responses within a month), 58% of questions in this area never received a reply. This practice, known as ‘negative administrative silence’ continues to occur in regards to the Bill currently pending in Congress. The continuation of this practice in this way, will weigh down the effectiveness of the Transparency Law from its inception.
Entities that “champion” transparency, but that don’t practice what they preach
The use of administrative silence is especially significant in the case of political parties. Although political parties’ finance, accounts and appointment criteria does concern citizens, and all parties declare their support to have their operations submitted to a ‘criteria of transparency’, in practice, we can see, that except for UPyD (on two of three occasions) no party has yet responded to citizens’ questions.
In fact, the opacity of the process of creation of the Transparency Law, which civil society has complained about on numerous occasions, is also reflected in this report. The Ministry of Presidency, the public body responsible for the current Bill, has not given any response to questions about incorporation of citizens contribution to the text of the law (or not), or to criticism of the current text in the advisory reports of the Council of State and the Spanish Agency of Data Protection for the Transparency Law. As is reflected on the web, the Ministry of Presidency has built up a long series of neglected requests.
Answers that we now know (and others that have been left unanswered)
After 12 months of life, the website Tuderechoasaber.es has channeled citizen requests whose satisfactory answers came loaded with informative interest. In this way, we have agreed to the number and cost of translators of co-official languages in the Senate (250,000 Euros budgeted in 2012) or to the cost of the autonomic elections in Asturias (2012) and in the Basque country (2001, 2005 and 2009). Thanks to a correct response from the institutions, we know that about 50% of the budget for these elections has been pocketed by the present parties and that to advance the Asturian elections meant an extra cost of 1.2 million Euros.
However, despite the fact that it has aroused increasing interest, the administrations generally refuse to respond to requests related to expenses and budget execution. Thus, the Congress of Deputies refused to make public detailed information regarding the 2013 Chamber budget. Further, the Court of Auditors is not reporting about the lifetime allowances for former senior members of the Administration and the Bank of Spain does not respond to citizens seeking information on the deposits guarantee fund or the volume of public debt issued
“This report is important because in Spain we do not have better indicators to monitor institutions attention to citizens” – explains David Cabo, director of the Fundación Ciudadana Civio. “Poor performance results in the practice are, among other things, due to shortcomings in the legislation. At Civio and Access Info we offer a series of suggestions so that the future law can achieve a real change in practice and improve these statistics, we hope that they take them into account in the debates on this law”, says David Cabo.
• Victoria Anderica – Campaign Coordinator Access Info Europe:
firstname.lastname@example.org / tlf. 606 59 29 76
• Javier de Vega – Communications – Fundación Ciudadana Civio:
email@example.com / tlf. 650 07 44 21
• Access Info Europe (http://www.access-info.org) is a non-profit human rights organisation. Its mission is to promote and protect the right of access to information in Europe as a tool for the defence of our civil liberties and human rights, to facilitate public participation in decision-making and to demand that the Government be accountable.
• La Fundación Ciudadana Civio (http://www.civio.es) is non-profit organisation created in February 2012 that aims to foster active and involved citizens, especially in regards to transparency of information and the opening of data. Its main activities are the development of technological applications that facilitate access to public information, like España en llamas, ¿Dónde van mis impuestos?, tuderechoasaber.es and El Indultómetro. Civio promotes the creation of independent journalistic content and quality based on facts.