Mexico’s Constitutional Reform Guarantees the Right to Know
In 2006, fiercely-contested presidential elections with an uncertain outcome rattled the country’s openness community. The Federal Institute for Access to Information (IFAI), along with journalists, academics and NGOs, worried that advances made after the political transition of 2000 could be seriously jeopardized by a new administration. In response to these concerns, advocates sought to strengthen and consolidate their gains by pushing for a comprehensive reform of the Mexican Constitution, which would guarantee the right to know and establish permanent standards for openness that could not be changed at the whim of a new government.
In March 2007, a comprehensive reform of Article 6 of the Mexican constitution was passed in the federal Congress, and within three months it was approved by a majority of state legislatures, signaling a major victory for the right to know movement in Mexico.
This reform is, without a doubt, the most important development related to freedom of information in Mexico in the last two years. It establishes principles of transparency and provides minimum standards for public access to information at the federal, state, and municipal level. Article 6 now explicitly addresses and settles issues that had become controversial during the five years of the federal FOI law being in effect. These issues include, for example, the principle of maximum disclosure, protection of personal information, and better access to administrative archives.
On July 20, 2007 the constitutional reform bill was made into a law. Federal and state agencies now have one year to comply with the modifications laid out in the reform’s guidelines. Furthermore, the third transitory article of the law obliges municipalities with more than 70,000 inhabitants to make their access to information procedures available electronically. This represents a major new challenge for Mexican public officials at the most local level. Civil society now has the opportunity to ensure that the reform is carried out in an effective manner in order to enact real changes in FOI practice at the state and local levels.
The following is a link to the text of the government decree, listing the seven fractions of the reform law in Article 6 of the Mexican constitution, published in the Diario Oficial de la Federación on July 20, 2007.
IFAI: Information about the Constitutional Reform