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The Latin American Approach to Transparency and Access to Information

This guide analyses the role played by civil society and the contextual factors that enabled the design and adoption of transparency policies and practices in the Latin American region. The document comes from Evidence and Lessons from Latin America (ELLA).

Adopting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that guarantees citizens’ right to information and transparency is a route for governments to enhance access to public information and government transparency, key elements promoting accountability, citizen participation in decision making, and social equity. "Yet enacting a FOIA is just the first step....This guide describes the access to information initiatives that Latin American countries have carried out, spurred on by vibrant civil society movements." The four types of initiatives/guiding principles are:

1. "Consolidating the legal and institutional framework including:

  • Regional standard on transparency and access to information
  • National FOIAs
  • Government responses to information requests
  • Court decisions at the regional and country level
  • Regional and national networks monitoring implementation of laws

2. Reducing corruption through transparency

  • Electronic procurement platforms
  • Platforms publicizing information about public officials’ personal assets

3. Providing relevant information to improve citizens’ lives

  • Targeted transparency policies

4. Advancing social justice and promoting accountability

  • Social auditing using the right to information"

Civil society organisations (CSOs) have advocated to push forward legal frameworks, including through a regional network, the Regional Alliance for the Freedom of Expression and Information. For example, In Mexico, journalists, CSO members and academics of Grupo Oaxaca drafted and pushed forward a FOIA. Similar groups are active in El Salvador, Uruguay, and Ecuador.

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