(SPP/IFEX) - The following is a 13 July 2001 SPP press release:
SINDICATO DE PERIODISTAS DEL PARAGUAY CONDEMNS LAW THAT HINDERS FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND ACCESS TO INFORMATION
The Paraguay Union of Journalists (Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay, SPP) condemns the law on Administrative Transparency and urges the executive branch to partially veto this law. Articles 6, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 14 of the law are an attack on the principles of freedom of expression and the right of society, and particularly the press, to access information.
Unrestricted access to information is guaranteed by the Constitution and international conventions ratified by Paraguay, and is essential to ensuring that democracy and the rule of law are adhered to. At the same time, this right is a vital tool used by citizens to monitor and oversee the activities of officials who manage public funds.
The passing of the aforementioned articles severely impedes the possibility of knowing what is occurring inside the public administration and places an indirect gag on journalists, particulary investigative journalists, because it grants public officials a legal pretext for delaying or refusing to provide documents on the management of their affairs.
SPP insists that state employees who manage public resources should be doubly subject to inspection. Therefore, any legislation to this effect should strengthen the possibility to observe, oversee and investigate their work without any restriction, so that theft, corruption and impunity can be prevented.
As a civil society organisation, SPP and its affiliates will be affected by this law and as such ask the executive branch to veto the aforementioned articles of the law. They further urge all organisations and individuals in the country to remain vigilant of the situation and express their support for freedom of expression and access to public information to the government.
SPP reserves the right to resort to labour and legal actions as necessary to preserve these threatened rights and principles and has already alerted the local and international communities to the seriousness of this incident.
Asuncion, 13 July 2001
For the Board of Directors
Miguel H. Lopez
Secretary for Human Rights and Labour Issues