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The right of access to public information was first recognized in Peru in the 1993 Constitution, but it was not written into law until August 3, 2002, with the passage of the Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information (LTAIP), which went into effect January 2003.
The adoption and implementation of the LTAIP marked a milestone in guaranteeing and upholding RAPI in Peru. The LTAIP was the first to develop a systematic legal framework to regulate this constitutional right and its adoption generated much expectation and stimulated important debates on government transparency, but there has been an inefficient implementation process for the law. While transparency and RAPI are part of the public discourse and have been incorporated as government policies in the National Accord, there has been no implementation strategy linked to clear, sustainable objectives. Efforts made by different actors to implement this law remain isolated and have led only to partial results.
Three factors contribute to this situation. The first is the lack of political will to effectively implement the LTAIP, reflected in a kind of bureaucratization of the law—an attempt to comply in a literal sense with the law’s basic contents but not necessarily guarantee maximum ATI and transparency of public entities. Examples of this lack of political will include the release of publications with budget or contract information within legal time limits but cloaked in administrative language, high levels of noncompliance by local governments in submitting information for the PCM’s annual reports, and legal proceedings against national government entities. Second, the lack of a professional civil service or career public servants has a negative impact on the sustainability of efforts to implement the LTAIP. The high turnover of public officials causes delays and difficulties in the implementation process. Finally, the institutional design for the implementation and oversight of compliance with the LTAIP is a diffuse model that places responsibility for these tasks on several public officials and entities, a model which seemed the most reasonable at the time the LTAIP was adopted (given the political and institutional circumstances), but which is insufficient today.
These factors, along with an absence of strong institutional incentives for a functioning model (such as linking compliance with transparency indicators to budget allocation) point to the need to promote discussion about the creation of a specialized, independent institution with authority over all of the entities subject to the LTAIP. This discussion should take into account the characteristics of the Peruvian government and the experience of institutions that have demonstrated positive results in the oversight of compliance by public entities with their obligations and defense of RAPI, such as the Ombudsman’s Office.
While the work of different CSOs have promoted the implementation of the LTAIP, it would be ideal if more organizations associated RAPI with demands for compliance with other rights. There should also be more such institutions located in the country’s interior. Moreover, consensus regarding the indicators or criteria that the different CSOs use to measure compliance with the LTAIP would enable more effective assessments.
Despite the obstacles mentioned, the LTAIP implementation process has generated important lessons. As demonstrated each year at the National Conference on Access to Public Information, there is accumulated experience in several government sectors in this area, and CSOs have made significant contributions. The beginning of the new government administration offers the best opportunity for promoting some of the pending reforms, including a new institutional model for implementation and compliance with the LTAIP to strengthen access to public information and government transparency.