WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
10 Mar 2021 | News

Mexico: Taking Stock of the National Prosecutor’s Work, Two Years In

Summary of conclusions of civil society coalition “Collective against the Epidemic of Impunity”

Following legal reforms to transform Mexico’s federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) into an autonomous National Prosecutor’s Office (FGR), in January 2019 Alejandro Gertz Manero was named the country’s first National Prosecutor, to serve for nine years.

Now, as Gertz seeks to rewrite the FGR’s governing law, the Collective Against the Epidemic of Impunity, a civil society coalition, has published its assessment of his first two years of work. They suggest that it is the Prosecutor who should come into compliance with his legal obligations, not the law that should be changed to fit his practices.

The organizations and victims’ collectives based their analysis on publicly known information and documents, meaning that many questions remain unanswered due to the FGR’s low level of transparency. Based on available information, however, the coalition concludes:

    1. Gertz’ FGR has failed to live up to its founding legal framework. An example is the failure to make a clear break from the traditional case-by-case investigation model; the FGR was designed to overcome this model by investigating criminal phenomena.
    2. Under Gertz, the Strategic Transition Plan from PGR to FGR is limited. The Plan lacks a detailed calendar and has insufficient geographical analysis of criminal activity.
    3. Gertz’ Prosecution Plan lacks context and analysis. The Plan omits legally required sources of information and fails to prioritize crimes and design processes in ways that adequately reflect the population’s priorities and the FGR’s daily needs.
    4. Gertz’ FGR has not clearly demonstrated autonomy. Gertz has not shown clear autonomy from the executive branch, while prosecutors in the FGR have not advanced sufficiently toward internal autonomy over their decisions.
    5. Gertz’ FGR has not collaborated sufficiently or effectively with external institutions or with other prosecutors’ offices.
    6. Gertz operates without transparency, failing to follow legally mandated accountability and citizen participation mechanisms.

This analysis of Gertz’ and the FGR’s failure to live up to their legal mandates is especially relevant considering that Gertz has sought to counter-reform those mandates. An array of stakeholders have rejected his suggestions as going against the spirit of the adversarial criminal justice system and the FGR’s founding principles. The latest example is Gertz’ current proposal to overhaul the FGR’s governing law, presented in the Senate by the governing MORENA party.

Rather than a new law, the civil society Collective calls for a transparent process to set the FGR on track to comply with its founding principles and effectively respond to complex criminal phenomena.

Read the full text, in Spanish, here.