From: Ioana Avadani 

From: Justice Initiative 
Sent: Friday, July 15, 2005 9:57 PM
Subject: First Freedom of Information Case Reaches Americas' Court 

     +1 212-548-0157

Contact: Darian Pavli  +1 646 247 4504 (cell phone)

Inter-American Commission Finds Chile in Violation of Human Rights Charter

New York, July 15, 2005- The Inter-American Court is to consider the first case 
involving the right to access public information in its 26-year history. The 
case was referred this month to the Court by the Inter-American Commission on 
Human Rights, an auxiliary body of the Court, following the Commission's April 
2004 finding that Chile had violated the American Convention on Human Rights.

The case originated in a May 1998 request by the Terram Foundation, a Chilean 
environmental NGO, for information about a major logging undertaking known as 
the Condor River project. The requestors asked the Chilean Foreign Investment 
Committee - a government body mandated to assess foreign investment proposals 
in Chile - to provide information on the environmental and general track record 
of Trillium Ltd, the company managing the Condor River project. 

Terram's request was ignored by the Committee and subsequent appeals were 
summarily dismissed in Chile's courts. In December 1998, a number of South 
American rights groups filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on 
behalf of Terram.

In April 2004, the Inter-American Commission issued a preliminary report on the 
case concluding that Chile had violated the applicants' rights under Article 13 
of the American Convention, guaranteeing the right to access public 
information. The Commission urged Chile to remedy the situation within 60 days. 
Following Chile's failure to comply within that period, the Commission referred 
the case to the Court for adjudication.

In its April preliminary report, the Commission affirmed a number of general 
principles regarding freedom of information:

. The free expression rights guaranteed by Article 13 of the American 
Convention include a general right to access state-held information and a 
corresponding obligation for states to ensure information availability. This 
right is subject to limited exceptions, which must be consistent with the 
principle of the "presumption of openness."
. Article 13 requires that states define expressly in national law both the 
presumption of openness and the limited grounds for denying access to official 
 With respect to the facts of the case, the Commission found that: 
. At the relevant time, Chilean law did not define restrictions on the right of 
access to information, giving government officials unlimited discretion to 
grant or deny requests for information.
. Chile failed to show that it was "necessary" to withhold the requested 
information in order to protect any of the legitimate interests provided for in 
Article 13. In particular, the Commission dismissed the state's claim that the 
information at issue was protected by commercial confidentiality, finding that 
the state had not demonstrated any substantial harms in that respect greater 
than the public interest in disclosure.
. Chile did not grant the applicants an effective remedy for the violation of 
their right to access information.
. Due to its failure to "adapt its internal legislation in a manner that 
guarantees" the right of access to information, Chile violated its obligations 
under Articles 1 and 2 of the Charter to "give effect" to the right.
The Commission asked Chile to bring its domestic legal order in conformity with 
its Article 13 obligations regarding access to information, and to adopt the 
measures necessary to guarantee effective access to official information for 
its citizens. The state was also asked to "publicly divulge" the information 
requested by the petitioners, and to grant them adequate reparation.

On February 23, 2005, the Justice Initiative and three other groups - ARTICLE 
19, Libertad de Información México (LIMAC), and the Lima-based Press and 
Society Institute (IPYS) - filed jointly a "friend of the court" brief with the 
Inter-American Commission in support of the applicants' case. The brief is 
available at: 


The Open Society Justice Initiative, an operational program of the Open Society 
Institute (OSI), pursues law reform activities grounded in the protection of 
human rights, and contributes to the development of legal capacity for open 
societies worldwide. The Justice Initiative combines litigation, legal 
advocacy, technical assistance, and the dissemination of knowledge to secure 
advances in five priority areas: national criminal justice, international 
justice, freedom of information and expression, equality and citizenship, and 
anticorruption. Its offices are in Abuja, Budapest, and New York. 


Al. Cinematografului 2, bl. H3, sc. 2, ap. 27
810271 Braila, tel. 0740.026091

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

Sageata Albastra e cea mai mare tzeapa a transportului public! 
Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

Raspunde prin e-mail lui