Mexican House Passes FOI Bill With Altered Amendment

25 August 2013

The Mexican House of  Delegates on Aug. 22 overwhelmingly approved freedom of information legislation after a modification was made to a controversial provision that activists had said would undermine positive reforms.

The House bill still would permit the government’s top legal official to ask the Supreme Court to override decision of Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection (IFAI) if national security might be compromised.

The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), however,  cut back on the originally proposed reasons that could have been used to seek a Supreme Court ruling.

The original amendment would have given the President’s Legal Advisor, the State General Attorney, the President of the Human Rights Commission and the President of the Central Bank the authority to contest IFAI decisions under that could affect “safety, economic stability and the protection of human rights.”

Groups protested the breadth of the amendment, as summarized in this Global Voices posting.

Speaking after the vote, IFAIPresident Gerardo Laveaga appeared to be unconcerned about the potential for Supreme Court review in an interview in the Aug. 26 El Diario (in Spanish), saying the IFAI is careful on national security matters and is unlikelyt to be over-ruled.

Ana Cristina Ruelas, an activist with Artícle 19, was quoted in El Pais as saying, “The issues that it encompasses are not well defined.” She said, “Say, our petition from the government to disclose info on the investigations on the slaughter of 72 immigrants in Tamaulipas — is that considered national security?”

The amended legislation now goes back to the Senate for reconsideration. The Senate bill would make all IFAI resolutions “final and incontestable.” The House vote was 392 votes in favor, 40 against and 3 abstentions.

The legislation would enlarge and strengthen the IFAI in a variety of ways and require more institutions to provide information.

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