Madrid, 10 December 2015 – It is with huge reluctance that Access Info Europe and Civio today announce the closure of the request website “Tu Derecho a Saber” (Your Right to Know) because the need to have an electronic ID and the refusal to respond to emails is making it impossible to help the public send requests.
In the first year of implementation of Spain’s much-criticised transparency law, we processed requests manually, using Civio’s electronic ID to send them via the central Transparency Portal’s complex verification systems, something that was taking up to a few hours per day.
On 10 December 2015, as the law comes into force at the regional and local level, we are faced with the prospect of hundreds of different systems across the country. To make things more complex, the design of the regional and local portals, the ID system required, and the online forms used, differ from one administration to the next.
“It is simply not feasible for us to offer a service to requesters under these conditions,” explained Eva Belmonte, Project Director at Civio. “The law requires that requesters demonstrate their ID. Unlike most other European countries, an email is not sufficient. Paradoxically, as the law comes into force at the local level, it’s going to be harder rather than easier to request information.”
“The Spanish government has done everything it can to make it hard to request information,” commented Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info. “Under these conditions, it is not surprising that there have been only 3,000 requests in the first year of the transparency law. This is a shameful situation for a member of the Open Government Partnership.”
Access Info and Civio note that there is one exception in Spain, which is the example set by the General Council of the Judiciary, which accepts email requests because it recognises the right of access to information as a fundamental right. All other administrative bodies are constrained by the administrative law and must verify the ID of the requester.
Launched in March 2012, Tu Derecho a Saber is based on mySociety’s “Alaveteli” software, which powers 25 similar websites gobally. It has channelled some 1,800 requests and responses to date. The Tu Derecho a Saber blog will stay online and all existing requests will be accessible.
For more information, please contact:
Helen Darbishire | Access Info Europe
email@example.com +34 913 656 558
Javier de Vega | Civio
firstname.lastname@example.org +34 650 074 421