(Apr. 29, 2009) On April 20, 2009, the Law on Access to Public Information, also known as the Law on Transparency, became effective (Law No. 20285, DIARIO OFICIAL (Aug. 20, 2008), available at http://www.freedominfo.org/documents/chile_ley_de_transparencia.pdf; see also Global Legal Information Network online database, GLIN ID No. 213690, available at http://content.glin.gov/summary/213690). The Law provides for free access by the citizenry to government documents, public budgets and records of expenses, and any other document produced using public funds. It is a “document law” because it gives citizens the right to obtain documents held by public officials. This information can also be requested from companies that are at least 50 percent government-owned. A request for information may be denied if that information falls under the exceptions provided by law or if it is of a secret character.
The Law creates the Consejo para la Transparencia (Council on Transparency), an autonomous public entity with members appointed by the President of Chile with the consent of the Senate. The Council will be the authority in charge of receiving and processing all requests for information, preparing statistics, and providing information and training to public officials about the application of the law.
The new law is considered historic because it aims at reversing a longstanding culture of secrecy on the part of public officials. (Rodrigo Mazzo Iturriaga, 20 de Abril La Nueva Era de la Ley de Transparencia, Biblioteca del Congreso website, Apr. 17, 2009, available at http://www.bcn.cl/carpeta_temas_profundidad/20-abril-ley-transparencia/s