Mexico in recent years has made significant progress in correcting authorities’ traditional practice of hiding information from the public. Availing themselves of a relatively new freedom-of-information law, journalists and ordinary citizens have been able to learn facts that the government sought to hide — from homicide statistics to what the first lady spends on her wardrobe.
But this week, Congress was poised to change the law governing the Federal Institute for Access to Information, or IFAI, in ways that critics say will gut the public’s ability to gain access to important, sometimes sensitive, material. In discussions held largely behind closed doors, congressional committees approved a provision that would allow the Supreme Court to review and potentially overturn any decision by the IFAI. As it stands now, the institute receives petitions from citizens, reviews the request and then, if in agreement, orders the target of the petition to disclose the information sought.