Photo: Fakurian Design/Unsplash

By KELIN DILLON

On Monday, Oct. 25, Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN) ruled to remove preventative detention in the country for financial crimes, including smuggling, tax fraud and the sale of false invoices, saying it violates the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. 

Under the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), a 2019 reform to Mexico’s Article 19 of the National Code of Criminal Procedures and the National Security Law declared these aforementioned financial crimes as comparable to organized crime, setting forth preventative detention (detention without bail) in cases where the illicit funds amounted to 8.6 million pesos and over.

Now, in Monday’s ruling, the SCJN decided the preventative detention aspects of the Article 19’s modifications to be unconstitutional in an eight-to-three vote, removing the precautionary jailing measures.

SCJN Judge Fernando Franco likewise introduced a project that endorsed a continued detention mandate at the time, though the initiative was ultimately rejected by his peers on the court.

For his part, SCJN President Arturo Zaldívar said that preventative holding should only be implemented in exceptional cases in accordance with the country’s constitution and international standards.

Unhappy with the result, AMLO took to his daily morning press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 26. to publicly criticize the court’s decision.

“It is still necessary to achieve in other powers, like in the judiciary branch, that all those who commit an offense are punished equally and that justice is not at the service of money and at the service of the powerful,” said López Obrador at the time. “The ruling goes along the lines of continuing to protect corruption.”

AMLO said the ruling will allow criminals to continue to buy their innocence, saying “these are white-collar criminals, so now the ‘fifis’ cannot go to jail.”

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