Portal for the people
People in Spain are now able to make and track requests for information from public bodies via the new web portal TuDerechoaSaber.es (“Your right to know”). Hopes are the initiativ will be followed by a long asked for access law.
The new portal was launched by human rights organisations Access Info Europe and Fundación Ciudadana Civio,in the expectation that the Spanish government will adopt an access to information law during the first half of 2012.
“The website aims to breach the wall of silence between the administration and the public. It will make it easy to ask about current topics such as cuts in public services or the debts of political parties,” says Victoria Anderica, Campaigner and Project Coordinator with Access Info Europe.
“With tuderechoasaber.es asking for such Information is as easy as sending an e-mail.”
Spain is the only EU country with over one million inhabitants with no access to information law and research shows that over one in two requests (54%) never get any kind of response, while only 20% receive the information requested.
“At present, each public body can decide arbitrarily whether to make information public,” commented David Cabo, founder of Fundación Ciudadana Civio.
“This will change with a law which requires responses in a fixed timeframe. Our aim is that the public decides how much transparency there will be, not the administration.”
The Spanish Government has committed to present a law on Transparency, Access to Information and Good Government at the meeting of the Open Government Partnership in Brasilia on 17 April. Once adopted, Access Info Europe, the Fundación Ciudadana Civio and members of the public will be able to monitor the implementation of the new law via the Tuderechoasaber.es website.
Tuderechoasaber.es aims to mirror the success of the UK website Whatdotheyknow.com by UK organisation mySociety which has processed more than 100.000 requests in the past four years, which is 15% of all requests in the UK which had an access to information law since 2005, demonstrating the high demand for transparency. Both websites use the same Alaveteli open source software.
Other similar web platforms include AsktheEU.org for requests to the European Union built by the same team as Tuderechoasaber.es and request websites in Germany, Kosovo, Chile and Brazil.