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The decisive session on informal preventive detention maintains the government’s pulse with the Supreme Court

A few hours before the decisive session of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) on informal preventive detention, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador maintains the pulse with the judiciary. In his morning press conference this Tuesday, the president has insisted that the Mexican high court cannot modify the Constitution, referring to article 19 where this legal figure is included. “If they change the article, they are overstepping their limits, because that corresponds to Congress,” said the president, who considers that the SCJN is “interfering in the sphere of another power.”

The highest Mexican court is discussing this week two projects that ask to eliminate the informal pre-trial detention for “violating the human rights to personal liberty and the presumption of innocence.” On Monday began the discussion on the proposal of Minister Luis Maria Aguilar, who seeks to inapply article 19 of the Constitution. Yesterday there was only time for four ministers —of the 11 that make up the plenary— to announce what their vote was going to be and under what arguments. Three of them, Yazmin Esquivel, Loretta Ortiz and Alberto Perez Dayan, will reject the proposal, considering that the Supreme Court does not have the power to modify the Constitution. Minister Juan Luis Gonzalez Alcantara Carranca announced his support for the project. This Tuesday the session continues with the other six ministers who have yet to announce their position and with the final vote.

Faced with a question in the morning, Lopez Obrador has denied having influenced the vote of the ministers, some of them appointed during his Government, but has recognized that pressure has been exerted from the Executive: “Because we touched on the subject. How can we not touch the matter if it is very delicate? Since it became known that the SCJN was going to decide whether or not to eliminate this legal controversy, the Government established a very clear position in favor of maintaining informal preventive detention for the sake of the country’s security. Today the president has once again insisted on the idea that this mechanism defends the judges and society. “Imagine that the judge is going to decide if a person is released or remains in prison: the Public Ministry is erased, and the right to victims? Who is released? To those who have money? To those who have influence? It is even a risk for the judges, because it is silver or lead”, said the president.

In recent weeks, experts have tried to explain that the disappearance of informal preventive detention does not mean the automatic release of thousands of people, nor does it mean that some defendants can no longer be kept in prison for the duration of their judicial process. In the first place, in Mexico there are two types of preventive detention: the justified one, which is issued by a judge when he sees a risk that the accused will escape or harm the victim; and the informal one, which is what is being discussed. The latter has been highly criticized by high international organizations, such as the UN or the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, because it is an incarceration in advance.

Informal preventive detention is applied in a catalog of 16 crimes, which was expanded by the Lopez Obrador government itself in 2019 to include financial crimes and others such as huachicoleo. Those accused of any of these charges must automatically spend their judicial process in jail, even if they do not have a flight risk or harm the victim or hinder the judicial process. In addition, the Constitution states that they can only spend two years in pretrial detention, but in reality, due to the saturation of the courts and the slow pace of justice, the process can take years.

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Source: EL PAIS

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