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Two criminal suspects with censor bars and no surname. Two suspects with censor bars and no surnames.

Lawmaker calls for end to censor bars in photos of criminal suspects

A federal deputy argues that victims are being put second to criminal suspects

A Morena party lawmaker has called for an end to using censor bars in photos of criminal suspects, a practice intended to obscure their faces.

Guerrero Deputy Coyolxauhqui Soria Morales proposed an amendment to the criminal procedures code which would prohibit photos of suspects being distorted when they are given to the media.

Mexican law does not explicitly require the media to use censor bars. However, it does defend a suspect’s right not to be presented to the public as guilty, and not to be exposed in the media, hence the practice has become customary.

(Another measure designed to protect suspects is the use of the letter “N” instead of the person’s surname.)

Morales argued that anonymizing suspects is tantamount to putting their rights above those of victims. “Higher priority has been given to the alleged perpetrator, putting the victim second … negating the legal equality of both parties and overprotecting the accused …” she said.

Morales added that obscuring the identity of the accused is a barrier to securing a prosecution. “… the face of the detained defendants must be revealed to provide legal certainty and viability, in order to carry out physical identification by the victims,” she said.

Anticipating an objection, the deputy asserted that the principle of presumption of innocence does not afford suspects anonymity. “The presumption of innocence is not affected by the fact that their faces are covered or distorted, or that a bar is placed on their eyes. Their integrity is not protected by that measure, but with respect for their human rights as criminal suspects,” she said.

The proposed modification to article 113 of the National Code of Criminal Procedures reads: “When the alleged perpetrators are arrested, at the point they are presented to the media, it is forbidden to cover the face or distort the image or put a bar over the eyes of the accused, with the exception of minors.”

Source: Infobae (sp)

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