Feb 20, 2012

Rule of Law: Politicized Attorney General

John Ackerman is a U.S. born and trained scolar (Ph.D. in political science, University of California, Santa Cruz) who is also a Mexican citizen. He is a researcher in the Institute of Judicial Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and editorial director of the Mexican Law Review. He is a columist for La Jornada newspaper and Proceso magazine. He maintains a blog of his articles in Spanish, as well as some in English. 

La Jornada: "The most serious cases of politicization of law enforcement are not the ones known to us, but those that we don't know. The Michoacan cases (in which thirty-some mayors belonging to the PRI--Institutional Revolutionary Party--were arrested on drug corruption charges just before the mid-term congressional elections in 2009 but subsequently released for lack of evidence) and the cases of Greg Sanchez (Cancún area politician charged with, but absolved of ties to drug trafficking) and Jorge Hank Rohn (former PRI mayor of Tijuana), and the ongoing criminal investigations (of Humberto Moreira, former PRI governor of) Coahuila and (three former PRI governors of) Tamaulipas, are only the tip of the iceberg. The real scandal is not that the PGR (Attorney General of Mexico) has decided to investigate and make a show of these politicians, but that it has not done so earlier and in a more systematic and widespread manner.

How many times will Felipe Calderon, for political reasons, order that a criminal case be filed against a high-level official? Why do none of the political front line investigations by the PGR have to do with PAN (National Action Party, the party of President Calderon)? The politicization of justice has been the rule throughout the country's recent history. More serious than the current attempts by Calderon to intimidate his present-day opponents are his pacts of complicity and impunity with his friends of yesterday.

... Mexico needs more, not less, serious investigation of the probable complicity of senior officials and business leaders with organized crime and drug trafficking. The levels of impunity and infiltration that remain in the country today are not just a result of actions by individual police, prosecutors and corrupt judges. Instead, they reflect government policies and systems of complicity that are fostered and tolerated at the highest levels.

Last week, General Guillermo Galván confessed that, in many parts of the country, public safety agencies are completely overrun and that in some regions organized crime has appropriated state institutions. This is not just the responsibility of the PRI, but also of the party that now rules the federal level.

The audit by the Supreme Audit Office of the Federation (ASF) for FY 2010 helps us to understand the reasons for such a monumental failure in public safety. During 2010, for every 100 criminal investigations opened by the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) only 34 were presented before a judge. In other words, 66 percent of investigations were completely without substance, either because the persons being investigated or arrested had nothing to do with the crimes under investigation or because of the total ineptitude of the agents of the MPF to prove the crime or who was responsible. Also during the same year, nearly 7,000 injunctions were canceled because their time limits had expired and the authorities had not acted.

The ASF also found that the PGR simply does not have a reliable record of the arrests and dispositions before the Federal Public Ministry for all of 2010. It turns out that during the process of a change in the systems for recording this information the data was lost or never recorded.

The auditor, Juan Manuel Portal, also certified what many already suspected: the PGR simply does not have an anti-drug strategy. The National Drug Control Program of 2007-2012, which was drafted early in the presidential term, was never properly approved or given institutional follow-up. The PGR also now operates with completely outdated and unworkable rules that do not correspond to the new Organic Law of the institution, published on May 29, 2009.

The recent firing of the special prosecutor for electoral crimes, Jose Luis Vargas, and of the inspector general of the PGR, Cesar Chavez, are not, then, a turn toward greater politicization of the institution, but are just the latest examples of the large institutional weakness have eaten away at the state agency from the beginning of the current administration. While the case of Vargas has received more media attention, the Chavez case is also serious. In 2011 he had achieved a 300 percent increase in the number of observations issued to PGR officials regarding administrative and criminal irregularities. Apparently, this effort to implement a more energetic internal purge made the attorney general, Marisela Morales, uncomfortable.

The good news, however, is that the temporary breakdown of the pact of complicity and impunity between PRI and PAN has allowed important information about political corruption in the country to come to light. The result could be positive if society succeeds in transforming its new knowledge into specific demands for greater accountability by the entire political class." Spanish original

No comments:

Post a Comment