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Those tasked with drafting or promoting legislation guaranteeing the right to information face a number of challenges. How should the regime of exceptions be crafted so as to strike an appropriate balance between the right to know and the need for secrecy to protect certain key public and private interests? How extensive should the obligation to publish and disseminate information be and how can the law ensure that this obligation grows in line with technological developments? What procedures for requesting information can balance the need for timely, inexpensive access against the pressures and resource constraints facing civil servants? What right of appeal should individuals have when their requests for information have been refused? Which positive measures need to be taken to change the culture of secrecy that pervades the public administration in so many countries and to inform the public about this right? Conducted by Toby Mendel, this study helps to clarify some of these challenges from a regional, comparative perspective. It illustrates the way, in which eleven Latin American countries have dealt with enacting right to information legislation.

Concerns have also been expressed about Paiz, the Maya Museum Foundation’s president who is believed to be the most influential private collector of Mayan antiquities. Paiz has openly admitted to purchasing many of his artifacts in markets, on the street, and from private individuals in the country. Purchasing and selling archaeological goods is illegal in Guatemala, as it is believed to encourage looting of archeological sites, but Paiz openly discusses his acquisitions, which many people believe could only have been acquired by dealers through some form of looting.

Data analysis allows us to get rid of the excuse that war is just messy, and sometimes people die. It’s also part of a larger trend. Over the last 25-30 years, Aronson says, civilian casualties have become more important to how we think about the aftermath of war. In order to really understand what happens to civilians you need both the detail provided by witnesses, and a sense of the big picture that comes from statistics.