Human Rights Groups Alert U.N. to Alarming Actions by Mexican Prosecutors
In an open letter, more than 120 human rights groups and individuals are warning the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers about alarming trends emerging from Mexico’s new national Prosecutor General’s Office and the State’s Prosecution services.
Over the last year, the newly formed Federal Prosecutor General’s Office, Fiscalía General de la República, has appeared to imperil the possibility for independent and effective prosecutions in Mexico. The signatories point to serious breaches by the Prosecutor General of the exact laws the office is responsible for implementing. Similar breaches were observed at the state level.
In 2014, after concerns about impunity for grave crimes, Mexico’s prosecutorial system was overhauled to establish a system of autonomous prosecutors’ offices. However, it was not until 2018 amid extraordinary pressure from civil society that Congress passed the governing law of the Prosecutor General. On January 18, 2019, Dr. Alejandro Gertz Manero assumed the office as Fiscalía’s first Prosecutor General.
The letter points Special Rapporteur Diego García-Sayán to three major concerns about Fiscalía current operations:
- Selection, appointment, and removal processes for high prosecutors at the state and federal level fail to meet the standards of transparency, meritocracy, and citizen involvement;
- Lack of compliance in regard to oversight and accountability mechanisms, including those to ensure citizen participation within the Fiscalía; and
- Failure to address a case of potential conflict of interest involving the Prosecutor General.
The letter calls on García-Sayán to request:
- The Fiscalía’s progress on the implementation of key aspects of their governing law and plans for the implementation of as-yet unrealized provisions of the law as it currently exists;
- The Prosecutor General’s planned legislative reform proposals, and how, specifically, the proposed reforms will ensure that standards of judicial independence are upheld, including through citizen participation and oversight mechanisms;
- The actions being undertaken by the Mexican State following the news of the alleged conflict of interest of the Prosecutor General.
The 120 signatories agree that if “…there is to be any hope of combating impunity for grave crimes in Mexico, it is essential to have autonomous prosecutors who can conduct investigations and lead prosecutions independently of external influences.”