Press release #VamosPorUnaFiscalíaQueSirva

October 11, 2017

Reflections by the collectives #VamosPorMás and #FiscalíaQueSirva, during the presentation of the Citizens’ Initiative to create an autonomous, capable and independent Prosecutor’s Office

Ángel de la Independencia, August 29, 2017

Serious violations of human rights, rampant corruption, organized crime, and debilitating impunity - all of the expressions of injustice in Mexico have a common denominator: the absence of an autonomous, capable, and independent Prosecutor General’s Office on which the rule of law is based.

Captured by political interests and economic interests other than those of the public, designed to be the perfect complement to Mexico’s outdated presidentialism, incapable of truly fulfilling its mandate, the PGR (current prosecutor’s office) is one of the most costly and harmful obstacles to the realization of justice in Mexico.

The evidence is there, but not for those who do not wish to see it.

The fact that the PGR is adrift is confirmed by the stories of people who are every day aggrieved by the inadequacy of criminal investigations, and have now affected thousands of cases. The evidence is also in the conclusions of innumerable official and independent reports, and even in the words of the PGR’s own officers, such as Jesús Murillo Karam, who stated publically that he “inherited a dismantled institution” when he became Prosecutor General in 2012.

A dismantled institution should not be covered up; it must be transformed.

The PGR should become an AUTONOMOUS, CAPABLE, and INDEPENDENT Fiscalía.

The constitutional autonomy approved on paper in 2014 is at risk of becoming merely a legal construct if it is not accompanied by serious accountability, effective supervision of its conduct, and a complete professionalization of staff.

A new autonomous, capable, and independent Prosecutor’s Office, sensitive to the rights of victims, requires a transformation of the PGR into a professional institution. An organization that is technically strong, with the best tools to investigate and prosecute crimes, and with the most effective controls so that it does not continue operating according to political will, corruption, incompetence, or as a simulation.

We know that it is not enough to diagnose problems or call out deficiencies. It is the duty of our generation to criticize and demand, but also to propose and transform.

That is why we as members of two civil society groups, #VamosPorMás and #FiscalíaQue Sirva, have come together and have worked for months to develop a citizens’ initiative to replace the PGR with a Prosecutor’s Office that is autonomous, capable, and independent.

#VamosPorUnaFiscalíaQueSirva was born in recognition of the fact that time is running out. Thus, in the coming days, we will present to the Mexican Congress a citizens’ project to reform our Constitution.

This civic initiative responds to the complex times in which we live. It is based upon intensive studies and diagnoses, as well as consultations with dozens of national and foreign experts. Recognizing the previous work of our legislators, the proposal also incorporates the most solid elements of all the initiatives that the political parties and the Executive Branch have already promoted within Congress.

-Until today, the public debate has revolved around the “automatic pass” of the Procurador to Fiscal General, a mechanism which has been met with widespread rejection within Mexican society.

Thus, our proposal seeks to ensure the political independence of the Attorney General and the specialized prosecutors for anti-corruption, electoral crimes, and human rights by incorporating designation criteria that recover the legitimacy now lost by the PGR due to partisan connections, quotas between parties, and other practices of political control.

We seek a Constitution that assures selection procedures with checks and balances, maximum publicity, accountability, and evaluation criteria based on merit.

National and international experiences have recommended that the Prosecutor appointment period is not overlapped with that of the president, in order to reduce the conditions of presidential influence of the succeeding administration. It is for this reason that the proposed duration of the appointment is six years without the possibility of reelection.

The work of transforming the Public Ministry of the Federation is much greater than just the definition of who will lead. The proposal also considers an in-depth review of the way in which technical-forensic services operate.

We want a Prosecutor’s Office that is autonomous and independent, but not an institution without checks and balances. Therefore, we propose the creation of a Consejo del Ministerio Público de la Federación.

When state prosecutors do not have the necessary independence, or when they become involved in systemic and generalized violations of human rights, the Prosecutor should have the necessary powers to guarantee the effective resources for victims and to prevent these crimes from going unpunished. Therefore, we propose that the new Prosecutor’s Office incorporate clear mandates and rules in order to attract cases of common jurisdiction that are of importance at the national level.

We are convinced that this country requires an approach that is technically strong, politically viable, and accompanied by widespread social support. Thus, we will submit this initiative to Congress in the coming days and we will fight so that our proposal is discussed in an open format, in full view of civil society.

The plurality of the coalition that today presents this initiative confirms that beyond the political trajectories or divergences, there are central themes for Mexico’s life in which groups of victims, academics, civil society, and the entrepreneurial sector converge. We all agree. Now is the moment to build the institutions that we need to end impunity.

From the diversity illustrated here, a common voice emerges: it is urgent, it is possible and we will transform the PGR into a Prosecutor General’s Office that serves the public interest and our society as a whole.

Press release in PDF and list of signing organizations