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Government audits classified under newly approved legislation

(PFC/IFEX) - On 26 September 2002, the El Salvador Legislative Assembly approved a reform of the law which governs the Court of Accounts, the national government auditing agency. The reform includes a modification of Article 46, which now stipulates that "audited reports... shall be made available to the public, only after a resolution has been issued [stating that everything is in order] and the financial statements have been approved." Previously, there was nothing to prevent journalists and the public from gaining access to audited reports immediately after they were issued.

Under the newly approved legislation, audited reports will be classified until they are approved or liability [for any malfeasance] is determined, a process which normally takes several years. According to PFC, this measure violates citizens' right to access government information and Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which recognises the right to seek and receive information. The new reform deprives the public of timely information on government expenditures and on the conduct of their legislative representatives. Because there is no limitation on the length of the accounting process, under the new legislation the errors and irregularities committed by government institutions will be hidden indefinitely.

For more information on the newly approved legislation, letters of protest, and reports on the issue see:

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the president:
- urging him to veto the reform of Article 46 of the Law on the Court of Accounts
- noting that this reform, which classifies government audits as secret, is a violation of the right to information

Appeals To

Lic. Francisco Flores
President of the Republic
El Salvador
Fax: +503 243 9947

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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