The freedom of information movement is getting stronger south of the border.
Mexico was one of the first Latin American countries to pass a freedom of information law — also know as right to know law. At the time, journalists and civil libertarians in Mexico criticized it for being too weak and having too many loopholes.
Shortly after Mexico passed its law, the Dominican Republic did the same thing and the criticisms were the same. Some even said that it was useless passing such a law because of all the gaps in the law. Former (US) Society of Professional Journalists president David Carlson (@gigabit1) visited the DR to talk about FOI laws and online journalism during the height of that debate.
Carlson’s message was simple: “First get the law on the books and then improve it.”
He noted that when the U.S. FOI law was first enacted, it too had lots of gaps. In the intervening years, however, he said amendments to the law made it a better and stronger tool for the American people to force information out of the government. (He added that a vast majority of the FOI requests were not from journalists but rather from individuals and civic groups.)
And so now Mexico is plugging a few gaps and improving its FOI law. (Just like Carlson said should be done.)
Thanks to freedominfo.org for reporting this.
21 DECEMBER 2012
The Mexican Senate on Dec. 20 unanimously approved amendments to the freedom of information law, increasing the powers of the FOI oversight body.
Under the legislation, supported by new president Enrique Peña Nieto, the Federal Institute of Access to Information (IFAI) would gain new autonomy, with its decisions made binding. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) This reform would prevent the government from appealing IFAI decisions to the Supreme Court, a right now reserved only to citizens.
In addition, IFAI’s jurisdiction would be extended to cover legislative and judicial branches, as well as states and municipalities.
Just in case you were wondering, the connection to the United States is that it will now be easier for journalists to get information from the government about lots of things that affect U.S.-Mexican relations. And for those of you who forgot: Mexico is a neighbor of the United States and one of its top trading partners, in other words, it is an important country to know about.