Guatemala City.- From today on Guatemalans have free access to public information form all Governmental institutions, the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. That includes the Supreme Courts, the municipalities, the autonomous and semiautonomous governmental institutions.
The Law for Free Access to public information was approved by Congress on the 23t of September 2008. In August 2008 the Guatemalan Government instituted the Commission for Transparency headed by Vice-President Rafael Espada. One of the mayor tools that the commission needed to implement important steps toward transparency of financial transactions of the Government was the law of Free Access to public Information.
The Law for Free Access to public information had been presented to the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala since 2002. Since 2002 to the present, seven legislative initiatives regulating access to public information have been presented to the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala.
For the Government to be successful in this effort it needed the prompt and immediate action of the Congress to pass the Law for Free access to public information and transparency in public institutions.
The date set to implement operational units to provide the information was April 21, 2009.
This law establishes free access to information of the financial operations and spending of the government. The law also includes sanctions for those who refuse to provide the information, including monetary fines and jail sentences.
Currently, 72 countries -nine of them in Latin America- have passed a law guaranteeing access to information. In 2001 the Republic of Guatemala ratified the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and in 2006 it ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Both international legal instruments include provisions on access to public information, committing states to taking concrete steps towards legislation in favour of this human right.
The Vice-Presidency of Guatemala, the Guatemalan Human Rights Office and the Civil Society Organization "Accion Ciudadana", Director Manfred Marroquin, http://www.accionciudadana.org.gt/, among others, will be supervising the implementation of the law.
To look for information the easiest way is to go to the government websites and start there. Here is a preliminary list of the mayor governmental institutions.
The Municipalities, Governors have to provide free access to information also. NGO´s that manage governmental funds are also included.
Guatemalan Human Rights Office
Ministry of Culture and Sports
Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources
Ministry of the Interior
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Comunication, Infrastructure and Housing
Ministry of Energy and Mines
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Work and Social Prevision
Ministry of Health and Social Asistance
Ministry of Economy
Ministry of Foreign relations
Ministry of Agriculture and Food
Secretary of Administrative and Security issues of the Presidency
Secretary of Strategic Analysis
Secretary of Agrarian issues
Secretary of Social Welfare of the Presidency
Secretary of Social Communication of the Presidency
Secretary of Executive Coordination of the Presidency
Secretary of Strategic Intelligence
Secretary of the Social Projects of the First Lady, SOSEP
Secretary of Food Security of the Presidency
General Secretariat of the Presidency
Secretary of Women's issues of the Presidency
Private Secretary of the Presidency
Secretary of Planning and Programming of the Presidency
Secretary of Peace
Vice- Presidency of Guatemala
Judicial Branch - Organismo Judicial
Constitional Court - Corte de Constitucionalidad
Superintendencia de Administracion Tributaria - Internal Revenue Service
Superintendencia de Bancos, Banking Supervision
Banco de Guatemala, Bank of Guatemala
Direccion General de Caminos, Road Construction Office
National Council for Young People, Consejo Nacional de la Juventud de la Presidencia
National Council of Science and Technology, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Technologia
National Fund for Peace, Fondo Nacional para la Paz
INTECAP, Instituto Técnico de Capacitacion y Produccion, Technical Institute for training and Production
INGUAT, National Institute of Tourism
Picture: Vice-Presidential Press Office