The Congress approved the Law of Access to Public Information in 2008. The Law is available on a number of government websites. One of the objectives of this instrument is to guarantee the transparency of public administration and every person’s right to free access to public information. The Finance Ministry has summarised the Law of Access to Public Information for a wider public (http://www.minfin.gob.gt/laip_mfp/index.html), and the National Association of Municipalities has also created a Guide (http://www.promudel.org.gt/cms/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=94:presentaci%C3%B3n-de-gu%C3%ADas-anam) for the implementation of the law by municipalities.
There is a law (the Languages Law) which makes it compulsory for the state to translate laws into indigenous languages, but according to this research no environmental law has been translated into any indigenous language.
In theory, civil society and the communities can request this information from the public information units in the municipalities. In practice, there are a number of obstacles to increase freedom of information in the country, such as:
a) 40% of the population of Guatemala is indigenous and 34% of the indigenous peoples do not speak Spanish (http://www.desarrollohumano.org.gt/sites/default/files/INDH_2005_1.pdf); furthermore, there is no state budget for implementing translation initiatives.
b) According to the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman (PDH) there is a lack of compliance with parts of the law on access to public information by the public forest organisations, and in particular by the municipalities.
c) There is a lack of funds allocated to the Public Information Units which prevents them from fulfilling their duties appropriately.
d) The PDH also points out that there is a lack of dissemination of knowledge of the Law at a local level, which does not encourage a culture of transparency.
e) There is a lack of knowledge amongst those who are subject to the requirements of the law on how to comply with the law.
Opportunities exist to:
a) Broaden knowledge of the law by means of community workshops
b) Translate and distribute it in the local language, increasing the financial budget to comply with the obligations in the Languages Law and the Law of Access to Public Information.
c) Train those subject to such requirements on how to comply correctly with the law.
|Title||Law of Access to Public Information – Decree Number 57-2008|
|Organisation||Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN)|
|Source||Public Information System of MARN http://www.sip.marn.gob.gt/public/docs/decreto_57_2008.pdf and printscreen/or: http://www.congreso.gob.gt/ley-de-acceso-a-la-informacion-publica.php|