Salvadoran Congress approves public information access law

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  • December 6, 2010

By Ingrid Bachmann

After 17 months of debate, the Legislative Assembly in El Salvador approved a law requiring state institutions to make information available to the public, reported El Faro. The law still must be signed by President Mauricio Funes.

Despite a consensus reached months ago only two of the five political groups represented in Congress voted in favor of the law, explained Diario CoLatino. However, the 55 votes of the ruling party, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the opposition Nationalist Republican Aliance (Arena) were enough to pass the new law after the intense debates and pressure from different sectors, added the Associated Press.

According to the news agency ANSA, the new law has 11 articles and defines three categories of information: public, which is available to everyone; confidential, which refers to a person's privacy; and reserved, like military secrets and data that could compromise the security and interests of the country. Any information requests must be responded to within 10 days and officials who refuse to turn over public information could be sanctioned, according to ElSalvador.com.

Although the law has been celebrated by the Catholic Church and civil society organizations, the Grand Alliance for Nation Unity party (GANA) asked President Funes to veto the law, calling it “defective, not egalitarian, and not consensual”, reported La Página.

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.