Coalición Pro Acceso meets with Spanish Governmentpresidencia_10_12_09

10 December 2009: On international human rights day, members of the Coalición Pro Acceso met with representatives of the Ministry of the Presidency to exchange opinions on a future Access to Information Law. They urged that this law clearly recognise the right to access to information as a fundamental right protected by the freedom of information provision of the Spanish Constitution (Article 20) and as recognized by the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

The meeting lasted two hours and included a constructive and interesting exchange of views. The Department of Legal Coordination is considering that the draft should meet the standards set in the “9 Principles” developed by the Coalición Pro Acceso.

There are, however, still many outstanding issues, such as the structure of the independent authority, including the possibility of combining this authority with the Ombudsman’s Office or the Data Protection Agency. The most important issue for the Coalición Pro Acceso is that this body has the necessary resources and powers to protect the right to access to information. In other European countries, the combination of protection of personal data with the protection of access to information works well to ensure a good balance between both fundamental rights.

Both parties are in agreement that public administrative bodies should disclose information proactively even before requests are submitted. They believe that a significant effort will be needed for the public administration to adapt to the right of access to information.

“Spain is one of the last European countries to adopt an access to information law so it has the opportunity to draft a progressive law which reflects the highest standards. Spain should show leadership with this right which is so important for a democratic and participatory state which is free of corruption,” commented Helen Darbishire of Access Info Europe, one of the members of the Coalición Pro Acceso.

The Coalición Pro Acceso warmly welcomed this first exchange of viewpoints and expressed confidence that these meetings will continue in the future.

[1] Representing the Coalición Pro Acceso: Helen Darbishire, Executive Director, Access Info Europe;  Manuel Sánchez de Diego, Professor, Department of Constitutional Law, Universidad Complutense de Madrid; Jesus Lizcano, President, Transparency Internacional Spain; Francisco Daunis, Madrid Press Association; Ana Etchenique, Vice President, Confederation of Consumers– CECU; Miguel Ángel García Garrido, Plataforma COABDM; Rosana de Andrés Díaz, President, Spanish Public Archivists. On the part of the Ministry of the Presidency: Maria Ángeles Ahumada, Director of Legal Cooperation; Emilio Guichot, , and Juan José San Miguel, Press Office.