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Petitioner v. Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional (Secretary of National Defense)

Case number:
1493/ 07
Country:
Mexico
Date of decision:
20 June 2007
Court / Arbiter:
Information Commission (Instituto General de Acceso a la Informacion Publica, or IFAI). ( Appellate )


Decision:

The Secretariat of National Defence must release the name and ranks of the persons who ordered the withdrawal of a press release related to the rape and murder of Ms. Ernestina Ascension Rosaria as this constitutes public information.


Keywords:
Harm (including harm to legitimate interest, harm test)
Media / Press
Oversight bodies (including information commission, judicial review, ombuds office)
RTI law
Record maintenance (including indexing, archiving, storage of records)
Scope of information covered
Security sector (including intelligence bodies, military, police)

Case details:

Facts

In March 2007, Petitioner requested information from the Secretariat of National Defence (Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional, or SND), specifically:  (i) Names and ranks of the people responsible for the removal of the press article No.19 given by SND, related to the rape and murder of Nahua Ms. Ernestina Ascension Rosaria, crimes allegedly committed by military personnel in 2007, as well as the release of a new press communication with the same number, and (ii) the documents through which this order was given [p.1]. Petitioner further argued that several media outlets had leaked how the SND had released an initial press release which was withdrawn and subsequently replaced by a different one [p.3]

After reviewing its archives, the SND responded that it was unable to locate any press releases that were any different from the version published online and that the alleged withdrawal did not take place [pp-2-4]. The SND did acknowledge, however, that there was a mix-up between an unauthorized draft that was mistakenly sent out for publication but was subsequently corrected and which gave way to disciplinary action [pp. 4-6].

Petitioner appealed to IFAI.

 

Decision

 

On administrative review, IFAI determined Petitioner’s request related to the press release made in connection with the on-going investigation of Ms. Ernestina Ascension Rosaria’s rape and murder by suspected military personnel. IFAI was satisfied that there was no official information regarding the existence of two substantially different press releases, but rather the press at the time corroborated the SND’s argument that the first publication was merely an unauthorized draft that was mistakenly sent out [pp-12-13].

With regard to Petitioner’s request for names and ranks of those who pulled and replaced the first communication, IFAI noted that the SND had already disclosed the name and rank of the person responsible for the mix-up. However, IFAI also pointed out that it was the responsibility of the General Office of Social Communications to organize the publication of press releases, that no names from that office had been released, and that Petitioner had requested the name of the person(s) who ordered the withdrawal of the unauthorized draft, not the name of the person who was sanctioned for the mix-up [pp.14-16].

According to Article 7(III) of the Federal Transparency and Access to Public Governmental Information Law (RTI Law), public entities are obligated to publish their full directories containing all employee names and ranks. On the basis of this provision, IFAI held that the SND must have naturally known the name and rank of the person who discovered the mix-up and ordered the withdrawal and replacement of the article and consequently instructed the SND to publish this information on its website [p.17].

 

Resources:

IFAI administrative resolution