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Casas Chardon v. Ministry of Transportation

Case number:
04407-2007-PHD/TC
Country:
Peru
Date of decision:
28 September 2009
Court / Arbiter:
Constitutional Tribunal ( Constitutional )


Decision:

Senior officials have to disclose asset declarations concerning their income and other benefits paid by the public sector and also concerning their real estate interests and movable property recorded in a public register. Given that all detailed asset declarations are made available to the national audit agency and only a summary to the public, information on private income is properly restricted on the grounds of privacy and security of a person.


Keywords:
Asset disclosure rules
Income and assets
Privacy (harm to private interests, including life, health, safety)

Case details:

Facts

In December 2003, the Lima-based Press and Society Institute (IPYS) requested access to the asset declarations of the minister and deputy minister of the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications. The Ministry denied access to the full asset declarations, relying on a June 2001 executive decree which stated that only a brief summary of the declarations should be made public, and that the detailed breakdown of the data provided by the officials should remain confidential.

First instance and appellate courts held in favour of the ministry on the ground that the requested information was private. IPYS lodged a constitutional complaint in June 2007 arguing that public officials have less privacy rights than ordinary citizens when it comes to their financial assets, and included information demonstrating that other ministries had provided access to full asset declarations.

Decision

The Constitutional Tribunal held that detailed asset declaration information of senior officials must be disclosed with respect to the income and other benefits paid by the public sector and also for real estate interests and movable property recorded in a public register (paras. 20-21). All other detailed data (private sector income; property not recorded; savings, deposits and investments; debts and obligations) should not be disclosed (paras. 24 and 37).

The court noted that the fight against corruption has a constitutional dimension, based on Article 39 (public officials are servants of the nation) and Article 41 (obligation to declare assets, unlawful enrichment is a crime) of the Constitution (para. 26). However, the officials’ income derived from private sources, such as bank account holdings and investments, raise right to privacy issues as well as issues of personal security "given the high levels of organized crime in the country" (paras. 36-37). Given that all detailed asset declarations are made available to the national audit agency and a summary to the public, it is not strictly necessary for all of their details to be made fully public (para. 34).

Resources:

Judgment of the Court.

More information on the case.

Written comments (Open Society Justice Initiative) (in Spanish)