Sanctions for Withholding Public Information

State officials do not own the information they manage, and when that information has not been legally declared as reserved, they must ensure its availability to the public.

Monday, April 18, 2016


And 'availability´means that public institutions must have all the doors to obtain it wide open, both administratively and technically.

State officials often create administrative barriers to free access to public information, in the form of lengthy bureaucratic processes, including sometimes filling out forms that include insidious questions about what the information will be used for.

A frequent barrier to accessing public information is the financial cost imposed by some public institutions. This cost is fixed arbitrarily, sometimes imagining a possible benefit from using this information, and sometimes citing the material costs of its delivery.

Finally, all too often the barrier is the format in which the information was saved, and that is especially true with digitized information, delivery of which often depends on the mood and willingness or unwillingness of computer official who arbitrarily determines the format of the data required.

All these barriers undermine transparency and lower resource management of an economy, since public information is vital for making business decisions for the generation of goods and services adapted to the current situation.

And all these barriers encourage a black market of public information in Central America, encouraging corruption of government officials who have access to it, and who can sell it to the highest bidders.

Public information should be available on time and without cost or at minimal cost. The delivery of public information should not be considered an ancillary task unrelated to the fundamental goals of each institution, but the main form of accountability to taxpayers, and it is the responsibility of the heads of all state agencies to make this happen.

In El Salvador, the Institute of Access to Public Information (IAIP) is an example of how they should manage the State's efforts to guarantee citizens expeditious access to public information. And an article on the subject in reviews the difficulties of IAIP in making this concept a reality (in spanish).

More on this topic

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After a home quarantine was decreed in El Salvador, the government intends to prohibit the dismissal of employees who do not attend work.

In the context of the crisis generated by the spread of covid-19, a proposal is being discussed that establishes that the employees of companies that are not allowed to continue their activities should be sent home with their salaries and benefits, and that they cannot be subject to dismissal, salary discounts or suspension of contract, nor be forced to take their vacation in advance.

Criticism of Public Procurement Law in Guatemala

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The business sector is demanding a new Public Procurement Act to promote competition and transparency in the procurement of goods and services by the State.

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Amendments to Computer Crime Law in Costa Rica

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Lawmakers voted so that no journalist, citizen or public official should again feel afraid of filing complaints of corruption.

It is no longer a crime to publicise and disseminate information of public interest, nor is collecting, copying and use of information by financial institutions supervised by Sugef.

Unions Opposed to Credit Card Law Reform

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Salvadoran private sector unions have expressed their opposition to state intervention in the market.

The new law, which sets a ceiling on interest rates for credit cards, is deemed to be a hindrance for the country's economy.

According to the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development, Fusades, the reforms will result in reduced access to financing, they are therefore calling on President Mauricio Funes to veto the reforms.

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