Paraguay Passes New Access to Information Law—the 100th Country in the World
In 2014, After 10 years of campaigning by TAI partners the Environmental Law and Economics Institute and the Access to Information Task Force, Paraguay enacted an access to public information law.
Until this bill, Paraguay was one of the few countries in Latin America that lacked legislation guaranteeing access to public information. This new access to information (ATI) law will, for the first time, provide citizens with a right to request information from all government authorities in Paraguay and appeal any refusal to an independent body. The new law has strong provisions on active transparency that will allow any person to access the most relevant public information online. It also has reasonable deadlines for the government to comply with ATI requests and specific provisions on access to public environmental information: Environmental licenses, permits and concessions must be online; and a report on the state of the environment must be published every year. It moves the country significantly forward on government transparency which will ensure more “inclusive institutions that, progressively, will allow reaching sustainable development and a better quality of life for the Paraguayans” (IDEA). The TAI Secretariat worked to create a coalition of partners in Paraguay to carry out a TAI national assessment in 2007 with funding from the World Resources Institute. One of the assessment’s main recommendations to the government was the passage of an access to information law. In 2009, IDEA, lead of TAI Paraguay and the local TAI coalition drafted an “Access to Information” bill, and shared it with stakeholders and parliamentarians in December of that year. During the 2009 process, the TAI coalition identified the need to expand and strengthen the coalition in order to more effectively influence stakeholders at every level to support the approval of an Access to Information bill. IDEA conducted a series of high profile discussion forums with authorities at every level of government with the goal of making the access to information law a priority on the Paraguayan government’s agenda. IDEA’s work enabled the creation of a broader coalition of institutions and professionals committed to supporting Access Rights. It was also able to create GIAI (Grupo Impulsor de Acceso a la Informacion), an organization under IDEA whose purpose was to identify and include new interested parties (CSOs, universities, the press, private sector representatives, etc.) in the effort.