No Canadá, órgãos governamentais assumem compromisso de diminuir o tempo de análise para divulgação de informações classificadas como "sensíveis". A iniciativa é resultado de investigação que durou três anos e também de reclamação da Associação de Jornais Canadenses. Segundo declaração do Chefe da Comissão de Informação, Robert Marleau, à Canadian Press, a prática de algumas agências de rotular informações embaraçosas pode causar atrasos injustos na divulgação dos dados.
A Associação de Jornais Canadenses defende que a classificação de certos pedidos de informação como "sensíveis", "interesse" ou "luz amarela" é um costume voltado principalmente para impedir o acesso de jornalistas.
O Chefe da Comissão de Informação não acredita que o sistema discrimina repórteres e aponta diversos motivos para o atraso. Mais pessoas se envolvem na análise de documentos classificados e setores de relações públicas podem ser acionados para criar planos de comunicação para divulgação dos dados.
A pesquisa investigou 21 órgãos governamentais e descobriu que não existe um padrão para a classificação de documentos "sensíveis". De acordo com o estudo, 38,8% das solicitações de jornalistas e 54,1% dos pedidos de partidos políticos ou parlamentares são rotulados como "sensíveis".
Leia abaixo a íntegra da matéria em inglês:
Information watchdog says flagging access requests can cause unfair delays
By John Ward, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA - The practice in some government agencies of flagging potentially embarrassing access to information requests as "sensitive" can lead to unfair delays in releasing information, says Information Commissioner Robert Marleau.
Marleau has extracted a promise from government institutions that they will speed up the handling of such requests.
The ruling, which followed a three-year investigation, partly upholds a complaint from the Canadian Newspaper Association.
The association claimed that secret government rules classed certain access requests as "sensitive" or "of interest" or "amber light" and caused unjustifiable delays in getting information. The group also said the practice was principally aimed at journalists.
Marleau, however, said reporters aren't singled out and there is no government-wide system of rules that holds up requests that may be politically touchy.
He said there are various reasons that flagging files can lead to delays.
In some cases, more people get involved in the file. In other cases, government agencies notify their public relations people about access requests and have them put together communications plans, which takes time and can delay the release of information.
"There is nothing illegal or inherently wrong in government institutions having a system of classifying access requests which they receive as 'sensitive' and in producing communication products vis a vis these requests," said the report, which was released Wednesday by the association.
He added, however: "We find that the system of labelling certain access requests as "sensitive" does, in a number of government institutions, create unfair and unjustifiable delays in the processing of those requests so labelled."
The association hailed the ruling.
"This is a major victory in that the commissioner confirms there is a serious problem in the way information that has the potential to embarrass the government can be obstructed," said David Gollob, the association's senior vice-president for policy and communications.
"The Access to Information Act is a critical tool for investigative journalists as well as parliamentarians, NGOs and others who seek to hold government to account."
"But delay kills stories and frustrates journalistic inquiry."
Marleau urged the government to ensure that even if requests are sensitive that they be handled as quickly as more mundane files. And he asked the Treasury Board to monitor how access requests are handled.
The government has agreed, he said.
The investigation, which looked at 21 government institutions, found little rhyme or reason to how some files get tagged as sensitive.
One small agency flagged every request that way. Others flagged none.
"There is no uniformity in how government institutions categorize and process access requests."
Basically, he said, flagging a requests means more complex processing, more people involved and, hence, delays.
The investigation found that while 38.8 per cent of requests from journalists are flagged as sensitive, 54.1 per cent of requests from political parties or parliamentarians are flagged.