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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Center of Investigative Journalism sue for information from the Land Authority

CPI filed a judicial appeal against PRTA for failing to respond to a request for access to public information. Ricardo Arduengo (CPI)

By The Star Staff

The Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI by its Spanish initials) Monday filed a judicial appeal against the Puerto Rico Land Authority (PRTA) for failing to respond to a request for access to public information on the composition and minutes of its Governing Board.

Since January 23, 2024, the journalist and founder of Bonita Radio, Carmen Enid Acevedo, who was awarded a scholarship by the Journalism Training Institute of the CPI, requested by email of Irving Rodríguez, executive director of the ATPR, the minutes of the meetings of the Governing Board, the composition of the Board, and who have been its secretaries from 2018 to the present.

After several days without receiving a response, the journalist went to the headquarters of the Land Authority to follow up. She was told that it was necessary to submit her request for information, again, in writing. After making the requested arrangements and informing at least three agency officials about the request, in person and in writing, including ATPR Executive Director Irving Rodríguez, the journalist waited several days without receiving a response and then called the agency several times until they told her again that they were working on her request. But to this day, more than 10 weeks after the original request, the requested information has not been received.

The CPI asks the court to order the Land Authority to provide the minutes of the agency’s Board of Governors meetings, in digital PDF format. In addition, the names of all the people who have been part of the Board from 2017 to the present, including the dates on which they have held such positions and who their secretaries have been, indicates the appeal filed by lawyers Luis José Torres Asencio, Steven P. Lausell Recurt and Judith Berkan of the Legal Assistance Clinic of the Inter-American University School of Law on behalf of the CPI.

“All the information requested is public information and of high public interest to the People of Puerto Rico. What is requested is not protected in any way by any privilege or claim of confidentiality and is not covered by some of the exceptions to the right of access to information,” said Carla Minet, executive director of the CPI.

In previous cases, the same Court of First Instance has ordered the disclosure of minutes of meetings of Boards of Directors of government entities. In the case of CPI vs Rivera Ríos, the minutes of the meetings of the Board of Directors of the State Insurance Fund Corporation between 2009 and 2012 were ordered to be handed over. In the case of Citizens’ Commission for the Comprehensive Audit of Public Credit v. Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure Financing Authority was ordered to deliver minutes from its Board of Directors in which they approved bond issuances and private placements between 1988 and 2015.

“The actions and omissions of the Land Authority in not providing the requested public information lacerate our constitutional rights of access to information and freedom of the press, for which the Court must order the agency to fulfill its duty,” said the executive director of the CPI.

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