Freedom of Expression

Press release R217/22

On the International Day of Universal Access to Information, the SRFOE reiterates the importance of the autonomy of the guarantor bodies


September 28, 2022

Washington D.C. - On International Universal Access to Information Day, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (SRFOE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reiterates its commitment to the promotion and protection of the right of access to information and recalls that States are called upon to adopt all necessary measures to formally and materially guarantee this right, including strengthening the autonomy of guarantor bodies for access to public information.

Access to public information is a fundamental right protected by Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which provides for the right of citizens to "seek" and "receive information" of all kinds. As the SRFOE has pointed out in many occasions, access to information is a fundamental pillar for democracy, as well as to guarantee transparency and good public management of governments and state authorities.

Given the reports received by SRFOE on restrictive measures to this right and the lack of transparency on matters of public interest at the regional level, the Rapporteur’s Office expresses its concern while reaffirming that the existence of autonomous and specialized guarantor bodies is essential to counteract the increase of omissions and denials of information that has been evidenced in recent years, especially in the context of COVID-19.

In this sense, SRFOE ratifies the importance of the Inter-American Model Law 2.0 on Access to Public Information approved at the 50th regular session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), which states that the guarantor bodies of each State "must make reasonable efforts to assist the applicant in connection with an appeal filed against a denial of disclosure of information", with the purpose of reviewing such denial of access to information and adopting a decision.

On the other hand, SRFOE stresses the importance that the States of the region recognize the imminent need to simplify the administrative procedures for access to information and reinforce the subsequent judicial guarantees in favor of the consolidation of democratic societies. Finally, this Office invites States to take up the recommendations and good practices compiled in its thematic report "The oversight bodies of the right of access to public information" (2016), which recognizes the importance of the work of the guarantor bodies to advance in the consolidation of the right of access to information, as well as how indispensable it is to ensure their specialization and autonomy for proper functioning.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (SRFOE) is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), to stimulate the hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, considering its fundamental role in the consolidation and development of the democratic system.