Human Rights

IFAI denies access to information on the case of the San Fernando Massacre

Civil society organizations criticize the decision to limit the effective guarantee of the right to truth

On Wednesday, September 4, 2013, Mexico’s Federal Institute for Access to Information (el Instituto Federal de Acceso a la Información – IFAI) confirmed that the investigation files on the massacre of 72 migrants carried out in San Fernando in 2010 will remain secret in the archives of the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la Republica – PGR). The decision came the day after a seminar on “The Right to Access to Information and Human Rights: the case of San Fernando”, held in the offices of IFAI, where the organization Article 19 defended its position that the investigative files on San Fernando should be released, according to the principle of maximum disclosure. The IFAI commissioners did not participate in the seminar, but other experts discussed the different considerations in the case. (see the news on the seminar: Cronica.Com)

Article 19 and other right to know experts have argued that the state has an obligation to release the case files on San Fernando in compliance with Article 14 of Mexico’s transparency law (la Ley Federal de Transparencia y Acceso a la Información Pública Gubernamental – LFTAIPG), which states that in cases of severe violations of fundamental rights or crimes against humanity the information found in related investigations may not be deemed privileged. In past cases IFAI, as well as the Supreme Court of Justice, has ordered the PGR to release its investigative files relating to cases of grave human rights violations, even when the records contained sensitive information. (see Rosendo Radilla case file and the investigative files related to Luis Echeverria).

However, this past Wednesday, the majority of the IFAI commissioners (Gerardo Laveaga, María Elena Pérez y Sigrid Arzt, outvoted Jacqueline Peschard and Ángel Trinidad) ruled that IFAI was not qualified to decide whether or not the San Fernando massacre constituted a grave human rights violation. In its press release, Article 19 called the IFAI decision “a reflection of the restrictive posture and limited protection of human rights in particular when it comes to the effective guarantee of the right to the truth.” (see Article 19 press release).

Migration Declassified has supported the campaign launched by Article 19 to promote the right to the truth with respect to the San Fernando case and has worked to secure the release of formerly secret documents with important information on the affair. U.S. documents recently published by Migration Declassified, for example, show that the Mexican government attempted to minimize the responsibility of the state in cases of massacres of migrants, such as the San Fernando killings. Moreover, the documents demonstrate that the U.S. government agencies are willing to disclose formerly secret information on the San Fernando massacre while Mexican citizens are denied access to information on the same event in the archives of their own government. The recent IFAI decision is an important one, as it represents a major setback in the movement to advance the right to truth in Mexico.

Read the press release by Article 19 on the final IFAI decision (in Spanish):
IFAI niega el #DerechoALaverdad

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