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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Citizens’ group sues Convention District Authority over denied public information request

The lawsuit reflects broader concerns that government agencies and instrumentalities have imposed requirements other than those contained in the Transparency Law to obtain access to information in the public interest.

By The Star Staff

The Citizenship Committee for the Audit of Public Credit has sued the Convention District Authority (ADCCPR by its Spanish initials) for refusing to provide information on the public corporation’s bond issues, financial statements and board of directors meeting minutes.

“This lawsuit has been filed following the Convention District Authority’s refusal to provide requested public information about its financial history,” Eva Prados Rodríguez, the executive director of the nonprofit entity and a lawyer, said in a statement Wednesday. “Over recent months, we have requested information that must be accessible to the people. Even though the request for information presented by the committee meets all the requirements established in the Transparency Law, the requests were denied.”

Prados Rodríguez said that on Nov. 11 of last year, ADCCPR denied the filed application because, according to the public corporation, some forms it creates do not fall under the Transparency Law.

“The excuse that the ADCCPR gave to deny our request is based on a document that establishes additional requirements and obstacles not contemplated in the Transparency Law for the public corporation to deliver the required information,” the attorney added. “These ‘additional’ requirements are nothing more than unnecessary and illegal barriers to free access to public information.”

Likewise, Prados Rodríguez said, the requirement by the ADCCPR to restrict the processing of requests for public information to the completion of a form not required by law constitutes an unfair bureaucratic obstacle for which it violates the fundamental right of access to information.

“The Transparency Law allows any person to submit a request for information without the need to identify themselves as a natural or legal person,” she said. “Article 6 also establishes the form and content requirements that the request must have: that it be written or made electronically, without the need to prove any particular or legal interest; that includes at least one address or email to receive notifications; and ‘Please specify the format in which you wish to receive the information and provide a description of the information being requested.’”

Published reports have found that other government agencies have imposed requirements other than those contained in the Transparency Law to obtain access to documents, Prados Rodríguez pointed out.

“The country is experiencing turbulent times, and great uncertainty, regarding the policies and strategies that will be used to tackle the economic and fiscal crisis that overwhelms us, as well as regarding the work and legitimacy of its government institutions,” she noted. “From this perspective, the right of access to public information is the tool from which citizens can monitor their government’s progress, insert themselves and influence public affairs.”

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