Impunity in Mexico remains rampant, according to a new study by a public policy think tank.
Two years after the federal government created a new, supposedly more autonomous federal Attorney General’s office (FGR), 95.1% of federal cases still go unpunished, México Evalúa said in its report entitled “Observatorio de la transición 2020” (2020 Transition Observatory).
Only 4.9% of cases investigated by the FGR are resolved with a prison sentence or other punishment, the think tank said.
Other studies have detected similarly high levels of impunity and just last month the United States Department of State cited impunity as a major problem in Mexico in a human rights report.
México Evalúa found that more than 70% of FGR investigations are running behind schedule. It also determined that the FGR, headed by Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero – a veteran lawman and ally of President López Obrador, has gone backward in five of six “transformation” areas in which it was assessed.
In its 2019 report, the think tank said the FGR’s progress toward autonomy was 27.7% complete. However, the new report said progress was now only 20.1% complete. The FGR also went backward in the areas of institutional development, normative development, pace of transformation and resolution effectiveness.
The only area in which it improved was “citizens’ confidence,” with 25% of people now trusting the FGR, according to the study, up from 21.4% a year ago.
México Evalúa also said that the FGR’s coordination and collaboration with other government institutions are declining.
“That was shown by the refusal of the federal government to investigate the case of the 19 bodies of Guatemalan migrants that were burned in Camargo, [Tamaulipas], and the attempted murder of the Mexico City security minister [Omar García Harfuch],” the think tank said.
“The Attorney General’s Office and its head have interpreted the autonomy of the institution as an open invitation to operate without transparency, in an isolated way, … turning its back on other institutions, citizens and especially victims,” said México Evalúa director Edna Jaime during the presentation of the study on Wednesday.
The think tank said the poor results are due to “deficiencies and omissions in its institutional design,” problems that also plagued its predecessor, known as the PGR.
México Evalúa noted that the FGR has not yet established a citizens’ participation committee, although it should have done so two years ago. Input from citizens is “almost nonexistent,” it said.
In addition, it doesn’t have budgetary or administrative autonomy nor a “criminal prosecution plan built hand in hand with citizens,” the think tank said. Such a plan, it added, would allow the FGR to know which crimes to prioritize for investigation.
México Evalúa also evaluated the progress made in the “institutional transformation” of the new Mexico City Attorney General’s Office (FGJ) and gave it a comparatively glowing assessment, even though impunity levels are also extremely high in the capital — 97.7% in 2019.
The think tank praised the FGJ’s “effective incorporation of citizens’ participation in the drawing up of a criminal prosecution plan” and its “effective supervision and control mechanisms.”
The process of the transformation of the FJG, headed by Attorney General Ernestina Godoy, offers a “clear example” for the transformation of other state-based Attorney General’s offices, México Evalúa said.
Mexico News Daily