Colombia’s House of Representatives approved a “law of transparency and public access” Tuesday that will increase citizen access to information about state matters.
The law would “open the windows of the state” to the citizens and “facilitate and proportionate” the access to information about state matters, wrote Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
Senator German Navas Talero of the opposition Polo Democratico party, said to newspaper Vanguardia Liberal that the law would “fundamentally serve the press because those evasive answers given by politicians will now not be given anymore. When a functionary does not hand over a document [he or she] must explain in a clear manner why the information is being withheld.”
The law further stated that every person searching for information about state matters would “have equal opportunities” to receive answers from officials, without having to give a reason for asking.
Accessing state documents will be free for Colombians besides the price of reproducing information.
The law was approved with 90 votes against one and would have to be ratified by the Colombian senate before being codified.
Corruption has been pervasive in Colombia for decades due to a host of reasons including the infiltration of paramilitary and drug trafficking groups into the political sphere as well as the risk of violence against whistleblowers. In 2011, Colombia was ranked the 80th least corrupt country in a study conducted by Transparency International, an NGO that monitors corporate and political corruption internationally.