Information on housing development deemed classified
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
In March, some residents concerned about the construction of a new housing development requested a complete file on the construction from the local government, but the information was classified as reserved. A spokesman for the group said that it is public information and the response was “politically ridiculous, absurd and cynical.”
The right to access public information is set forth in the Mexican Constitution, Article 6, which establishes that all information in possession of local, state or federal authorities is public and could be classified as reserved “temporarily” according to terms established by law. In 2004, the city council approved the Municipal Regulation of Transparency and Access to Public Information, as well as the formation of an Institute of Access to Public Information, which from October 2012 to May 2013 has received 60 requests for access to public documents issued by the authorities. According to the municipal regulation, the municipal institute must be formed by a council made up of five citizens’ commissioners proposed by the mayor and authorized by the city council. Nevertheless, the official responsible for granting access to public information in San Miguel, Fabricio Correa, commented that the council does not exist.
The citizens’ request was received in the Urban Development Department on March 8. They were requesting a complete copy of the file on the new housing development. They did not receive a response, so they requested access to this public information again on April 2. The response issued by Urban Development, which is dated March 11, mentions the petition was received on April 2. The documents state that the information is classified as “reserved” based on Articles 14 (may put the privacy or security of individuals at risk),18 (establishes that information is confidential) and 20 (which states who can have access to personal information, and how) of the State Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information (Ley de Acceso a la Información Pública para el Estado y los Municipios de Guanajuato, LAIPEMG), as well as Articles 3 (which addresses the principle of maximum publicity, that is, that all information must be public), 4 (which classifies telephone numbers and addresses of individuals as reserved) and 5 (which explains general terms).
There is not agreement on the classification of the information, and the official responsible for access to public information in the municipality does not possess information about this case. It was classified by the Urban Development Department, although they seem to have overlooked Article 40 of the state law, which establishes that “in those documents containing public, reserved or confidential information, the person responsible for access to public information must hand over the public information, eliminating the parts or sections classified as reserved or confidential. In those cases, the eliminated parts must be noted.”