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El Salvador31 October 2002

Concerns over bill that limits access to auditing agency’s reports

Reporters Without Borders has expressed concern over a bill that aims to limit access to reports issued by the Court of Accounts, the country’s auditing agency.

"Transparency in public life is essential to any democracy. As such, it is imperative that journalists be given access to all information concerning government expenditures," stated Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard. Ménard urged National Assembly Speaker Ciro Cruz Zepeda to amend the bill in order to make all Court of Accounts reports available to the public.

On 16 October 2002, President Francisco Flores sent the bill back to the National Assembly after amending it slightly. It had earlier been submitted to him for ratification. Article 46 of the bill initially provided for Court of Accounts reports to remain classified as long as the liability of implicated civil servants was not clearly establishment.

In the version of the bill that the president returned to members of the National Assembly, the Court of Accounts is given the authority to determine whether or not to release audited reports that highlight serious irregularities. Moreover, audited reports would be passed on to the president or members of the National Assembly before being sent to the press. The National Assembly will now either ratify the president’s version of the bill or once again introduce a newly-amended version.



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