Supreme Court berates those who request information on sexual health policies

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sexual-y-reproductivaFor the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) the taboo is not sex. It is information. That is the veil that it won’t lift.

Civil organisation Espacio Público requested the Supreme Court on September 18, 2014 to intervene so that the Health Minister Nancy Pérez would provide details on the annual budget and policies to promote sexual and reproductive health in the years 2011, 2012, 2013. The civil association decided to appear before the Supreme Court because Pérez never answered their inquiries.

Exactly three months after that action, the Political-Administrative Court, with a presentation by Justice Emilio Ramos González, gave judgment. The same as usual: it upheld the reasoning of the executive branch, leaving citizens without the right to know.

There is nothing original about Ramos González’s ruling. On the contrary, he repeated the arguments of the Constitutional Court, which had already established on 15 July 2010 that the right to information is not an “absolute right” and, moreover, whoever requests any information from authorities “shall expressly state the reasons why they require such information and justify that the information requested is proportionate to the intended use.”

In the end, instead of getting the information they sought, Espacio Público took a scolding. The Political-Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court considered that “such generic inquiries” undermine the effectiveness and efficiency of public administration, which “would have to devote time and human resources in order to give explanations about the wide range of activities performed for the collective benefit, a situation which would hinder and overload unnecessarily the justice system because of these complaints.”

The decision promoted by Justice Ramos González prevented the petitioners from knowing things like the “Annual budget for the promotion of sexual and reproductive health in the years 2011, 2012, 2013, broken down by source of income, human resources, infrastructure, medical equipment and supplies in the Health System”; or the “number and description of the health programmes on sexual and reproductive matters offered exclusively to teenagers in the years 2011, 2012, 2013.” Everything is secret.

Extract of the judgment

“(…) To safeguard the limits of the right to information, the petitioners must expressly state the reasons why they require the information and justify that such information is proportional to the intended use (…) shows that the petitioner did not explain the intention of control to be exercised, or the actions taken by the Administration (…) also, the petitioners failed to specify the use they would give to the information requested, therefore, said requirement is not fulfilled” (…) “[the request] undermines the effectiveness and efficiency that should prevail in the exercise of public administration and public power in general, because time and human resources would have to be devoted in order to provide explanations about the wide range of activities to be undertaken for the collective benefit, and this situation would also hamper and unnecessarily overload the justice system due to these complaints”.

Data Sheet

Espacio Público vs. Ministry of the People’s Power for Health
3 months (from 18/09/14 to 18/12/14)
Emilio Ramos González
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