I have reported here before on the proposed Freedom of Information act which has been brought back into congress in Guatemala. After the Vice President called for it to be passed as soon as possible, positive noises are being made – no congress person will publicly say they are against it – but it failed to get enough votes on 3 July. The Guatemalan Journalists Association is calling for it to be passed to reduce corruption, and others are claiming it as a tool of development, citing it as an essential characteristic of a developed nation.
Being in a developed country in which the public only recently acquired formal freedom of information rights it is interesting to see other nations struggling with this. Will there be in Guatemala something like MySociety’s WhatDoTheyKnow website where information garnered from others’ requests can be collated? One of the things the unfortunate Hutton Inquiry showed back in 2003 was the inner workings of government – but lost in the furore of the time, that the country did not suddenly become ungovernable when this information was made public. Quite the opposite – it made plain a lot of things in mature democracy should, and should have the right to, know about how the elected and unelected run the country. Guatemala is clearly a very different place to the UK, with a long history of good intentions paving the road to a place we’d rather not be. Still, I hope that Guatemalan citizens can soon also start gaining these rights too.
Categories: Human Rights