Brazil’s AG tells National Archive to grant access to documents from military era

By Maira Magro

The attorney general's office has asked the National Archive to uncomplicate the public’s access to documents from the military dictatorship (1964-85) and to abandon a series of bureaucratic demands, Folha de S. Paulo reports. (Read the Defender’s recommendation, in Portuguese, in PDF.)

According to federal prosecutors, the National Archive demands that persons researching their own cases present a personal ID that has been certified as valid; people seeking data about third parties must present a notarized power of attorney authorizing the consultation; and parties seeking information about persons who have died must present proof of their relationship to the deceased, Estadão adds. However, the prosecutors say no type of justification can be required to research the documents.

The prosecutors say it is not the responsibility of Archive personnel to extend secrecy requirements.
Earlier this year, researchers reported being denied access to documents from the dictatorship, and Archive officials claimed that journalists were "misusing" information from the documents. In protest the Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (Abraji) and Transparency Brazil, an NGO, cancelled their participation in a seminar organized by the National Archive.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.