ARTICLE 19 South America has launched a new website, the Free Access Portal (Portal Livre Acesso), which will offer a range of reference material related to the theme of Freedom of Information in Brazil. The organization has also launched a report which evaluates the implementation of the Access to Information law by federal public agencies in 2013.
The website is divided into three sections: Ferramentas (Tools), Observatório (Observatory) and Temáticos (Thematics).
Ferramentas will cover news, national and international legislation about the theme of Freedom of Information, a video library, and links to other websites and publications produced by ARTICLE 19.
In Observatório users will be able to follow the implementation of the Access to Information law in Brazil. In this section it will be possible to monitor instances of how the State are responding to requests for information and which information has been publicized proactively. There will also be a map to show which Brazilian states have already implemented the Access to Information Law.
Temáticos will explore the links between the right to information and other human rights, demonstrating how the right to information can be used as a tool for their realization.
The website can be accessed at: http://livreacesso.net
The report, “Monitoring of the Access to Information Law in 2013”, evaluates the implementation of the Access to Information law by 51 Brazilian federal agencies linked to the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary – between the months of September and December 2013.
The research found that with regards to “passive transparency” – the disclosure of information by a public agency after a formal request – the Judiciary responded to less information requests, took more time to respond and gave less satisfactory responses, when compared to other agencies connected to the two other powers.
The Judiciary was also less compliant with the concept of “proactive transparency” – the obligation of entities and public agencies to publicize, in an easily accessible way and on the internet, information produced or kept by them which is of collective interest, such as phone numbers and addresses, and information related to specific projects and public audiences.
Conversely, the agencies linked to the Federal Executive were the ones that better implemented the Access to Information law, not only concerning proactive transparency but also in relation to passive transparency.
Paula Martins, director of ARTICLE 19 South America says:
“We hope this report will help address the barriers to the effective implementation of the Access to Information law in Brazil. Our intention is to build a culture of openness and transparency in the Brazilian public agencies.
She acknowledged there was still a problematic culture within the public administration, saying:
“Some civil servants still have difficulties in comprehending the logic of ‘disclosure takes precedence’ that underpins the law, however, this kind of behavior is becoming gradually an exception.”