The legal bases which guarantee freedom of information and access to public archives are contained in articles 30 and 31 of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala, and in the Law on Access to Public Information (LAIP). The legal framework obliges the subjects covered by it to create Public Information Units (UIP), as entities responsible for complying with the stipulations of the LAIP. The Human Rights Ombudsman (PDH) has the role of regulating and guaranteeing compliance with the LAIP (Article 46), and must ensure free access to public information.
As far as fulfilment of the legal stipulations is concerned, there are still obstacles to guaranteeing full access of individuals and legal entities to public information, which include:
• Continued lack of compliance with the law by the public forest bodies, both in their annual reports and in terms of the requirement to update their websites (1).
• Official figures from the National Statistics Institute estimate that 14 out of every 100 inhabitants identify themselves with one of the 24 indigenous communities. The indices for school attendance are significantly low in this population, which affects their knowledge of the laws in their own languages. (2)
• There is a lack of funds allocated to the UIPs, which prevents them from fulfilling their functions correctly.
• There is little dissemination of the law, which does not encourage a culture of transparency.
• There is a lack of training of the responsible bodies on how to comply with the law.
There are opportunities for broadening knowledge of the LAIP through community workshops, as well as by translating it and distributing it in the local languages. Furthermore, the financial budget needs to be increased to meet the obligations on improving access to public information. In February 2012, a government agreement created the Secretariat for Monitoring and Transparency, which will strengthen freedom of access to public information; however, it now remains to be seen how this body will function and whether it will have the necessary resources and the political will to improve transparency.
1. Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman. (2011). Final Report on Supervision of Websites 2011. Executive Secretariat of the Access to Information Commission. 51 p. Available at: http://www.pdh.org.gt/accesinfo/filesmanager/secai/informe_final_super_portales_2011.pdf
2. National Statistics Institute (2011). Poverty and Development: A departmental approach. National survey on living conditions 2011. 30 p. (Available at: http://www.ine.gob.gt/np/encovi/documentos/Pobreza%20y%20Development%202011.pdf)
|Title||a. Law on Access to Public Information (LAIP). Legislative Decree No. 57-2008
b. Agreement on the Creation of the Secretariat for Monitoring and Transparency. Government Agreement No. 37-2012.
c. Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala 1985 (Articles 30 and 31, which refer to publicising administrative proceedings and access to state archives and records)
|Organisation||a. Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN)
b. Secretariat of the Office of the President of the Republic
c. Congress of the Republic of Guatemala
|Source||a. MARN Public Information System http://www.sip.marn.gob.gt/public/docs/decreto 57_2008.pdf o: http://www.congreso.gob.gt/ley-de-acceso-a-la-informacion-publica.php
b. General Secretariat of the Office of the President of the Republic. http://www.sgp.gob.gt/PaginaWeb/Agreements/2012/presidencia/AG-037-2012.pdf
c. Congress of the Republic of Guatemala: http://www.congreso.gob.gt/manager/images/1188FE6B-B453-3B8C-0D00-549DA12F72CB.pdf