Mexican Senate Declines to Reappoint Commissioners

28 February 2014

The Mexican Senate has rejected the requests of the four current commissioners of the Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection (IFAI) to stay in office.

The four commissioners — Sigrid Arzt, Maria Elena Perez-Jaen, Angel Trinidad Zaldivar and Gerardo Laveaga (the chairman) – will likely be gone by the first week in May, replaced by seven commissioners.

The larger commission size was mandated by the recent freedom of information law. The incumbents petitioned the Senate for reappointment, but had lost the support of many civil society groups.

Nongovernmental organizations pushed for the sweep, according to media reports and persons contacted by FreedomInfo.org. During recent weeks, they campaigned for a #nuevoIFAI (new IFAI).

During Senate deliberations, a two-thirds vote for retaining the commissioners could not be reached. The opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) opposed reappointing the commissioners and the issue caused division in the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI ) and the National Action Party (PAN), reported CNNMexico (in Spanish).

Alejandro Arreola González, speaking for 14 organizations organized as the Transparency Collective criticized the functioning of the IFAI under the four incumbents and said it was time for “a full renovation.”

A Vanguardia report (in Spanish) described an atmosphere of tension within the commission and noted an investigation into actions of Commissioner  Artz.

The Senate gave itself 80 days to select seven new commissioners.

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