26 September 2023

MEXICO: Government defends pre-trial detention

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The Mexican Government is opposing a Supreme Court plan to review and possibly abrogate a Constitutional provision requiring that mandatory prison terms must apply to accused perpetrators of certain crimes.

In a statement directed to “the people of Mexico” and the Supreme Court, the Government said mandatory sentencing before trial was essential to ensure that suspects did not evade justice and continue committing offences.

Two justices put forward the plan to invalidate the stipulation for pre-trial detention, arguing it violated the principle of presumption of innocence and that prison was a disproportionate preventative measure.

The full Supreme Court is to consider the proposals later in September.

The Government statement said the existence of preventative prison was fundamental for certain crimes “to ensure that the alleged criminals detained for organised crime, serious crimes such as homicide and rape, or white-collar crimes, don’t avoid justice during the criminal process”.

“Preventative custody prevents suspects from threatening and attacking victims and witnesses, continuing to commit crimes and leading criminal activities that affect society,” the statement said.

The Constitution was initially modified in 2008 to allow mandatory preventative prison for certain crimes, but additional offenses have been added since then.

“Leaving the decision about whether to apply preventative prison in the hands of judges would generate additional pressure on those who impart justice, exposing them to corruption and violence due to the kinds of crimes to which this applies,” the Government said.

“We ask the country’s highest court to consider the country’s public security, the victims of crimes, the fight against impunity and the enormous effort that criminal prosecution involves when considering whether to invalidate the pre-trial detention provision.”

Mexico City, 28 August 2022

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