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Friday, February 18, 2011

The view from Mexico

I'm in Mexico after brief stops in Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica. Mexico's freedom of information law rated very highly in Toby Rendell's 2008 survey, but implementation generally has been hard going with some backsliding as explained by Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive, who I saw when I was in Washington recently.

Two years ago I noted these features of Mexico's law that didn't then have a place in our system:
  • right to information included in the constitution
  • applies to all public bodies including the legislature
  • the principle of transparency must be favoured in the interpretation of the law
  • failure to decide an application within the time limit is a deemed acceptance of the request and the information must be provided within 10 days for free, unless the independent review authority decides otherwise
  • fees limited to the costs of reproduction - searching for documents and decision making not charged
  • requests for information and responses themselves must be published
  • duty to publish electronically as a matter of routine 17 categories of information including subsidy programs, contracts entered into, and reports completed
  • civil servants who fail to comply or fully support the law are subject to administrative sanctions.
We've made a little progress on some but not all since.

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