By Lesly Baesens (Posted: December 11, 2012)
In an unprecedented move, Argentina’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of freedom of information when it ordered the National Institute for Retirees and Pensioners (PAMI) to release information on its advertising budget as requested by the Association for Civil Rights (ADC).
ADC, an Argentinian Human Rights NGO, requested the budget from the national health insurance agency back in 2009. PAMI would not provide the information, saying that it was not part of Decree 1172/03, which regulates access to public information for the government’s Executive Branch. Confronted with the rejection, ADC decided to sue PAMI. It won the case before the Court of Appeals but PAMI appealed to the Supreme Court. This was the first case of freedom of information brought to Argentina’s highest court.
PAMI claimed that it is not a government agency and is therefore not subject to public disclosure. The Court argued that because its funding comes from the Executive Branch, PAMI has to abide by the Decree, particularly because the requested documents did not contain any sensitive information.
The court’s ruling, issued on December 4, advanced the right of public access to information. This ruling marked an important victory for freedom of information advocates, as it is the first time the Supreme Court in Argentina has recognized this right. The full opinion in Spanish can be found here while highlights in English are available here.