Madrid, 27 May 2020- Access Info Europe and 17 NGOs from Latin America today called on governments in the region to guarantee the right of access to informaton during the Covid-19 pandemic, to prioritise the disclosure of emergency-related information and to ensure that information reaches the most vulnerable populations. 

The proposal also highlights the negative consequences of the absence of policies on transparency and access to information. These include the authorities’ lack of coordination as well as limited performance of the agencies guaranteeing bodies for the full exercise of the right of access to information, which the text defines as “a key right to preserve the health, safety and physical integrity of citizens”.

The document is intended to be the first step in developing and stimulating discussions on this topic within the region resulting in a final document with clear guidelines that will allow States to face the challenges and issues posed by any health crisis in order to guarantee the right of access to information.

The proposal is based on good practices from expert transparency organizations and networks in Latin America, and includes recommendations from international bodies, such as the joint declaration of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Alianza Regional also mentions IACHR Resolution 1/2020, which calls on all States and institutions to ensure transparency by proactively publishing complete, permanent and accurate data on the health crisis; to ensure the privacy of persons affected by the pandemic, and to prioritize requests for access to information related to the public health emergency.

Ten Principles on the Right of Access to Information during  a health crisis:

  1. Guarantee the right of access to information.
  2. Prioritise emergency-related information.
  3. No setting of general limits on the right of access to information.
  4. Setting limitations on the right of access to information must be grounded in legislation and must be specific, precise, temporary, exceptional and in line with international standards. particulares, precisas, temporales, excepcionales y respetar los estándares internacionales.
  5. Encourage proactive transparency policies in priority sectors.
  6. Guarantee that the information reaches vulnerable groups.
  7. The oversight body should continue executing priority activities that facilitate the right of access to information.
  8. Encourage institutions to work in coordination and collaboration.
  9. Standardising information in one single place.
  10. The use of new technologies to ensure follow-up of important activities.

The full document is available here.

For more information, please contact:

Paula Domínguez, Communications Officer | Access Info Europe
paula[at] +34 637 22 66 09

Helen Darbishire, Executive Director | Access Info Europe
helen[at] +34 637 226 609