Argentina: Access to Information Law is a welcome step forward

On 14 September, after a legislative process lasting nearly 12 years, the Argentinian Congress has finally passed an Access to Information law.

Before this law passed, Argentina was one of only four countries in South America which hadn’t adopted an access to information law, along with Bolivia, Suriname, and Venezuela. The Bill, whose approval represents an historic event for the country, was endorsed by 199 congressmen and opposed by only 16.

The Bill regulates the right to public information, obliging all state agencies to provide and disseminate information of public interest. It ensures that citizens of the country are able to obtain data and information concerning public administration, and requires state bodies to properly respond to information requests. The law also established appropriate sanctions for public servants who do not comply with its provisions. Argentina’s access to information law stipulates that information requests must be answered within 15 working days, with the possibility of an exceptional extension for another 15 days. The  various state agencies have one year to adapt to the conditions imposed by the law.

The Argentinian law also creates an Access to Public Information Agency, an autonomous office that will work with functional autonomy within the Executive Branch. Its Director, proposed by the national government, must be elected, and will remain in office for no longer than five years. Furthermore, each of the branches of the Argentinian government must create their own agencies to promote and guarantee the right to information.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes the adoption of an access to information law in Argentina. This new legal framework is a crucial step towards the ensuring the right to information in the country.