In Mexico, the freedom of expression and freedom of the press are guaranteed since 1917, in the articles 6º and 7º of the Mexican Constitution. These articles include the right to freely access diverse and timely information, as well as the prohibition to restrict the freedom to disseminate opinions, information and ideas.
The article 6º claims that the expression of ideas would not be a subject of any court or administrative inquiry, except when it is against the moral and private life of a third person or it leads to a crime.
In seven out of the 32 states in the country, defamation, insult and slander are criminally prosecuted. One in three criminal charges are on the base of slander. These regulations defy the recommendations made by the United Nations since 2005 to decriminalize the defamation and other related crimes since it criminalizes the free expression of opinions. This was pointed out by Jan Jarab, the Mexican representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Constitution also bans monopolies and monopolistic practices in its article 28º, however, during many years, these stipulations remain dead letter in practice. The last big attempt to encourage competition in the communication media sector happened in 2013 when the Mexican Congress adopted the Constitutional Reform in Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Economic Competition.
This reform, approved in the second year of Enrique Peña Nieto’s presidential term, established the so called “Agente Económico Preponderante” (Spanish for: predominant economic agent). This would be any economic actor that has a market participation with at least 50% in the telecommunication and broadcasting markets. The reform also contemplates measures to limit the ownership concentration in these two markets.
The Federal Law on Telecommunications and Broadcasting, which is the law that implements the abovementioned constitutional reform, got adopted in 2014. In the same year América Móvil and Televisa, two of the most important media conglomerates analyzed by MOM Mexico, were declared predominant economic agents
Recently, the freedom of expression and the right to information have been subject to a very critical debate in Mexico: the article 9º of the Law on Public Security enacted in December 2017 specifies that any information generated in the process of an application of this very law will also be considered as a matter of national security and classified accordingly.
However recently, the National Institute of Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data challenged this article in front of the Supreme Court of Justice as a violation of the article 6º (A) (I) from the Mexican Constitution (reformed in 2014), which stipulates that the information in possession of any authority can only be reserved from the public temporarily, if this is of public and national security interest. In other words, in this case the ‘principle of maximum transparency’ should prevail. The latter obliges the State to prove the damage that could possibly be caused by the dissemination of this information.
At the end of February 2017, the international organization Article 19 criticized the ineffectiveness of the Special Attorney for Investigating Crimes against Freedom of Expression. This authority which was created almost a decade ago, has not provided any results so far in the case of the alleged spying on journalists and activists by the Mexican government, which was opened eight months ago.