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Peru8 August 2002

Right to information threatened by certain provisions in access to information law

Reporters Without Borders has expressed concern over a number of provisions in the Transparency and Access to Public Information Law, which came into effect on 3 August 2002. The organisation fears that the imposed conditions could infringe on the right to information and limit press freedom. "It would be a shame if the undeniable advance the law represents, in terms of the public’s role in overseeing government functions, is reduced to next to nothing by certain provisions," Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard said in a letter to Congress President Carlos Ferrero Costa. Ménard lamented the fact that the law does not define what will be considered a "state secret", but rather assigns this task to the Ministers’ Council. Reporters Without Borders asked Ferrero Costa to correct this by amending the law.

The Transparency and Access to Public Information Law was unanimously approved by Congress on 10 July and came into effect on 3 August. According to Article 15 of the law, for the next five years at least, the Executive is to determine what is classified as "secret" information, "via a decision adopted by the majority of members of the Ministers’ Council".

The Peruvian Press Council (Consejo de la Prensa Peruana, CPP) had proposed that the courts have the last word on this matter. In a 6 August press release, the CPP stated that the law is an affront to "citizens’ right to information and [legitimises] the culture of secrecy in Peru." Moreover, the CPP lamented the fact that that while the law defends the right to privacy, it does not specify that in some cases public interest should take precedence over this right.

The CPP, together with the Congress vice-president and a number of members of parliament, is preparing to submit a request suggesting a number of amendments to the law.

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