During the international response to COVID-19, a good part of the controversies has revolved around the handling of information: committee composition, hospital occupation, availability of breathing equipment, purchases from suppliers, deconfinement plans, tracking staff, vaccination plans, etc..

Access to information is a human right enshrined in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which, in Article 19, establishes the “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds”.

In this context, the seminar “Transparency in times of Covid-19” was held, jointly organised by the RTA (Transparency and Access to Information Network) and EUROsociAL+, the cooperation programme between the European Union and Latin America with a view to reducing inequalities through public policies focused on gender equality, democratic governance and social cohesion.

The report “Transparency, access to information and the protection of personal data in the face of the Covid-19 health emergency”  (only available in Spanish) was presented, which analyses the impact of states of alarm or emergency on the guarantees of transparency, the right of access to information and the right to the protection of personal data; the way in which these are contemplated in national laws; the main barriers to their effective protection in times of pandemic; and the necessary balancing of the rights at stake.

Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, participated in the panel “Reflections on the challenges associated with the dissemination mechanisms for vaccination processes that are or will be implemented at the national level, as well as the opening up of procurement by States”. She was joined by: 

  • Eduardo Luna, Director General of ANTAIP Peru;
  • Óscar Hernández, Program Manager Latin America, Open Contracting Partnership;
  • Eugenia Braguinsky, National Director, Access to Public Information Agency of Argentina; and
  • Carlos Cordero, EUROsociAL+ Programme Consultant and Director of Sustentia.