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Brazil30 September 2006

Open letter to presidential candidates about freedom of information

Ms. Heloísa Helena
Mr. Luis Inácio Lula da Silva
Mr. Geraldo Alckmin
Mr. Cristovam Buarque

Dear Presidential Candidates,

On the eve of the first round of the presidential election tomorrow, Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom worldwide, would like to add its voice to the appeal addressed to you by the Forum for the Right of Access to Public Information. This forum, comprising some 15 associations of journalists, jurists, lawyers, archivists, and human rights activists, asked you on 27 September to undertake to amend the law regulating access to government archives.

Article 23 § 2 of Law No. 8.159 of 8 January 1991 (which was complemented by Law No. 11.111 of 5 May 2005) states that “access to secret documents relating to the security of society and the state shall be restricted for a maximum period of 30 years from the date of their creation, a period that may be extended once for an equal period.” Article 23 § 3 states that “access to secret documents relating to the honour and image of persons shall be restricted for a maximum period of 100 years from the date of their creation.”

We believe these periods are much too long and are just a way of concealing information of general interest from the public. These provisions could also be a source of abuse in the absence of precise criteria about the “honour” and “image” of persons.

We therefore hope Brazil’s next president will ask congress to debate and then approve provisions to speed up the declassification of government documents. This debate could lead on to another necessary one about the press law of 9 February 1967. Promulgated under the military dictatorship, it has been described by a senior judge as incompatible with the 1988 constitution and in open contradiction with the Chapultepec Declaration on freedom of information and expression, which President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva signed on 3 May.

I thank you in advance for the attention you give to my request.

Respectfully,

Robert Ménard
Secretary-General



In this country
1 May - Brazil
Victory as federal supreme court repeals dictatorship era press law
12 December - Brazil
Four new arrests in investigation into abduction of O Dia employees
3 September - Brazil
Call for boost to media safety ahead of elections after journalist injured in Mato Grosso do Sul state
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Legislators urged to oppose cyber-crime bill likely to threaten online free expression
9 July - Brazil
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in the annual report
Brazil - Annual Report 2008
Brazil - Annual report 2007
Brazil - Annual report 2006


reports
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22 May 2007 - Colombia
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archives

Americas press releases
3 June - United States
President Obama urged to raise freedom of expression in his Cairo speech
29 May - Venezuela
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez to protest about official hounding of Globovisión
27 May - Mexico
Crime reporter abducted and killed in Durango state
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Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
15 May - Cuba
Journalist gets three-year jail sentence

Americas archives
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2008 archives
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2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

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