Alicante, 28 September 2021 – On the International Day for Universal Access to Information, Access Info Europe and other (35) organisations of the Coalición Pro Acceso have published a declaration calling on the Spanish government to recognise the right of access to information as a fundamental right, and to adopt a transparency law that applies to all public authorities, as well as to private entities that perform public functions and/or operate mostly with public resources.
Among the 18 demands contained in the Declaration of the Coalición Pro Acceso, presented at the VI international Congress on Transparency (Alicante, 27 to 29 September 2021), is the removal of any conditions that pose and an obstacle to the exercise of the right, especially the requirement that applicants identify themselves.
The Declaration highlights the importance of the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents by the Government of Spain and, with it, the elimination of the “grounds for inadmissibility”, which violates international standards by excluding the possibility of requesting information considered to be auxiliary, such as “internal” reports and communications between public administrations.
A priority for Spanish civil society, in the context of the events experienced in 2021, is to ensure the proactive publication of the spending of European recovery funds, as well as the opening of company registers, an essential anti-corruption tool needed for tracking the distribution of these funds.
Reflecting current pressing societal priorities, the members of the Coalición Pro Acceso are also calling for greater publication of measures designed to curb climate change. They are also urging transparency of scientific research and of the use of algorithms in decision making.
Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, stressed:
“The pandemic has taught us the importance of having information and data accessible, in plain language and in open formats, for all of society. Transparency is essential for a successful recovery with society in a strong position to confront the next challenge of climate change.”
Patricia Gonzalez, Legal Researcher at Access Info, explained:
”Many of the Declaration’s demands are commitments which can be found in the IV Open Government Action Plan. We are seeing, however, that some of these commitments have not been started or are running behind schedule. The Action Plan is ambitious, but if progress is not make right now, many of the commitments will only look good on paper.”
The Coalición Pro Acceso recalls in the Declaration that the lack of recognition of the right of access to information as a fundamental right has resulted in a law that does not guarantee access to all information held by and related to public bodies. It has also resulted in a complex legal framework, with many citizens being unaware of their right to request information and/or how to go about exercising this right.
The Declaration calls for the strengthening of the Transparency Council and similar regional bodies, so that they have sufficient powers to sanction all those who fail to comply with the law, and highlights the need to provide these oversight bodies with sufficient resources to perform their role.
To view the full content of the Pro-Access Coalition Statement, click here.
For more information, please contact:
Helen Darbishire, Executive Director | Access Info Europe
Telephone: +34 667 685 319
Patricia González, Legal Researcher & Campaigner | Access Info Europe
Telephone: +34 913 656 558