Freedom of expression coalition criticizes proposed changes to Uruguay’s public information law

The Regional Alliance for Freedom of Expression and Information, a coalition of several organizations from 19 countries in Latin America and the U.S., wrote an open letter to senators and other Uruguayan officials expressing its concern over a series of proposed amendments to the country's Law on Public Access of Information. According to the group, the proposed changes are "regressive" in nature and could significantly limit citizens' access to government information.

The document was signed by the 23 members of the regional coalition in order to draw attention to the consequences of adopting the amendments contained in Senate Bill 18.381, which would incorporate new grounds for government secrecy and restrictions on the operation of the Unit of Access to Public Information, the public agency in charge of supervising this right.

The proposed amendments would allow courts to withhold information if they have not yet made a decision concerning a case and public agencies to reserve information on ongoing "control, evaluation, investigation or deliberation" procedures.

Another proposal would classify as proprietary or confidential all information included in applications sent to the government.

So far, Senate Bill 18.381 has been partially approved by the members of the Senate. The Uruguayan government started outlining the new regulations last year.

The Uruguayan National Assembly passed the Law on Public Access to Information in 2008. Back then, the Regional Alliance described it as one of the most advanced laws in the continent in terms of access to public information.

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.

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