The Supreme Court must guarantee the right of access to public information on the functioning of the intelligence system.
In 2017, from the Citizens’ Initiative for the Control of the Intelligence System (ICCSI), we made a request for access to public information to the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI) on the regime of administration of reserved funds, quantitative data on interception of communications, intelligence information exchange agreements with other countries and internal regulations on categories and procedures for classification and declassification provided by law.
At that time the AFI rejected the request with the argument that it may put national security at risk, so we appealed to the judiciary. The first instance judge repeated the rejection arguments of the Agency and argued that the information was secret just because it was in the possession of the AFI. Again, we appealed, since this interpretation contradicts constitutional and conventional standards of access to public information. The Federal Administrative Court of Appeals did not rule on the merits of our claim nor did it evaluate the dogmatic arguments of the AFI to deny access. For this reason, we appealed to the Supreme Court of Justice, the highest court of the Nation.
Today, the Public Prosecutor’s Office sent its opinion to the CSJN and argued that judges should analyze the content of the secrecy or the exceptions alleged by the intelligence agencies, instead of dogmatically granting the justification of national security. Now, the Court must uphold the action and guarantee the right of access to public information.
The request was part of a joint strategy with several human rights organizations from around the world to the intelligence agencies of their countries to know information about the collaboration processes of agencies that remain hidden. Our country was the only one that did not agree to respond to the request for access.
This case deals with a critical aspect of the functioning of the intelligence system, which is the scope of secrecy. A reform of the law, as promised by President Alberto Fernandez at the beginning of his term in office, should solve the problems that are in dispute here.