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Brazil: Lula Sends Access to Information Bill to Congress

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Press Release - Article 19, 13-05-2009

Brazilian President Lula da Silva sent the long-awaited draft Access to Information Bill to the Brazilian National Congress. This is an important development that gives concrete form to the federal government’s stated commitment to adopt specific right to information legislation. The Bill seeks to implement Article 5 of Brazilian Constitution, which guarantees the right to information.

The draft Bill fulfils a commitment made by President Lula during his campaign for re-election in 2006, as well as historical demands by a range of civil society actors that have been calling for legislation to give proper effect to the constitutional guarantee. The Bill will now be reviewed by the two houses of Congress.

The Bill includes a number of positive measures, such as a list of information that must be disseminated on a proactive basis by public bodies, an obligation to respond to requests for information within 20 days, and coverage of information held not only by the executive, but also the legislative and the judicial branches of government. However, the text could still be significantly improved. A key problem is the failure of the Bill to establish an independent administrative oversight body to handle complaints and to promote effective implementation of the new law, a measure that has proven essential to successful opening up of government in other countries.

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