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Legal vacuum concerning information disclosure facilitates governmental irresponsibility, says ARTICLE 19

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is an ARTICLE 19 press release:

Brazil: Launch of Interactive Website Promoting Access to Information

ARTICLE 19 is pleased to announce the launch on 11 January 2008 of an interactive web portal on access to information in Brazil. Through the website LivreAcesso.Net, civil society organisations and individuals will be able to exchange information and coordinate efforts to promote the right to access public information in the country.

Brazil's Federal Constitution protects the right to access information. However, Brazil has not yet passed federal legislation regulating a universal access to information system, which should detail responsibilities, procedures and applicable deadlines for information disclosure.

Such a legal vacuum facilitates governmental irresponsibility and negligence regarding the disclosure of key information, with serious consequences to governmental openness and transparency. Access to information is essential for citizens to hold their governments to account and thwart corruption. Without information, people are also unable to meaningfully participate in public policy formulation.

As a strategy to contribute to changing this situation, the new website focuses on the importance of access to information as a way of promoting responsibility, transparency and efficiency within public institutions in Brazil. The website offers important data on the current situation of access to information in Brazil, citizen's rights and public institutions' obligations, bills and projects on access to information, as well as examples of civil society initiatives in promoting governmental transparency. Users can also access a document containing a model for requesting information.

The website LivreAcesso.Net includes sections on citizen participation, social control, anti-corruption measures and freedom of expression. Multimedia material such as podcasts and videos add to the debate, as well as interviews, articles and news. LivreAcesso.Net is built in Wiki format, which allows partner organisations to directly participate in the website and add content to the page.

Through this new web portal, ARTICLE 19 wishes to contribute to the promotion of an effective access to information regime in Brazil.

ARTICLE 19's website, LivreAcesso.Net is available at: http://www.livreacesso.net

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works globally to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.

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