Madrid, 28 November 2013 – The Spanish Parliament today adopted the Law on Transparency, Access to Information and Good Governance, the first law of its kind in Spain. The Coalición Pro Acceso regrets that final text is insufficient, given its serious shortcomings and contradictions, making the law obsolete from the outset and far from meeting international standards.
Since 2006, the Coalición Pro Acceso, a civil society transparency network formed of 68 Spanish CSOs, has been calling for adoption of a transparency law in Spain. During this time, the Coalición provided its knowledge and experience on the subject to different Spanish governments and political forces. In its judgement, the norm adopted does not meet the 10 Principles of the Coalición Pro Acceso, among other problems it highlights that the Transparency Law:
– Does not recognise the right of access to information as a fundamental right, as is recognised internationally.
– Does not apply to all the branches of government, excluding the legislative and judicial powers for non-administrative information..
– Excludes many types of public information such as internal reports and communications.
– Establishes negative administrative silence, something unique to public administrative rules in Spain, and hence permits information to be ignored.
– Creates an oversight body that is not independent and that does not have binding powers.
– Does not establish appropriate sanctions for withholding information.
“It a real shame that, being the 96th country to pass an access to information law, not only has Spain not adopted more progressive transparency principles, but it has ignored even the most basic ones” commented Helen Darbishire, Executive Director at Access Info Europe.
“The law contains serious deficiencies. Without an independent supervisory body the exercise of the right of access to information remains dependent on the discretion of the administration”, laments Javier Pérez Director of CIECODE.
“The right of access to information is not recognised when the administration does not respond to requests made by citizens, which the law permits by establishing negative administrative silence”, affirmed Jacinto Lara Bonilla, President of the Human Rights Association of Spain (Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de España).
The Coalición Pro Acceso will be monitoring the implementation of the new law, although it will enter into force only after one year at the national level, and after two years at the regional level. The Coalición trusts that the proactive transparency provisions will be implemented immediately, and hopes that individual requests for access to information will be answered.
The Coalición Pro Acceso will continue to work to promote the transparency of public bodies, individuals holding public functions or those who manage public funds, and to ensure that citizens obtain the information they request.
For more information, please contact:
Helen Darbishire, Executive Director, Access Info Europe
tel: + 34 667 685 319
Victoria Anderica, Campaigns Coordinator, Access Info Europe
tel: +34 606 592 976