Senator and ex-Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Melo defended an amendment to a freedom of information bill that would keep "ultra secret" documents exempt from release, reported the newspaper Folha de São Paulo.
Article 19, an NGO dedicated to the promotion and defense of freedom of expression and access to information, stated in a press release that if Collor's amendment were to pass, it would be a step backwards for information rights in Brazil.
"Collor advocated for the elimination of several amendments recognized as international standards and best practices in the original bill during the public hearings in the Chamber of Deputies [and proposed excluding] obligations to the proactive release of information in the public's interest, the possibility to request information without explaining one's motives and the establishment of time limits on how long information can be keep secret, among others," the group criticized.
In his statement, the senator supported approval of the original bill sent to Congress in 2009 when President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was still in office, reported G1. In 2010, the Chamber of Deputies modified the bill and determined that secret status could only be renewed once for classified information. Documents considered ultra secret would have to be made public in no later than 50 years.
The ex-president also said he was against the obligation to release official information online. "It would be like approving of Wikileaks, with all its inconveniences and dangers," the Agênica Estado cited Collor as saying.
Transparency specialist and journalist Fabiano Angélico analyzed on his blog the proposed changes by the "ex-president that did not finish his term and left office in 1992 under accusations of corruption." According to Angélico, Collor's amendments would alter the "critical parts of the bill."
Collor's statement is on the Brazilian Senate's Foreign Relations Commission's docket. The government had intended to defeat the amendment before it reached the Upper House, explained Folha.com.
For more details on freedom of information laws and their evolution in Latin America, see this map from the Knight Center.
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