Photo: SCJN

By MARK LORENZANA

Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN) will limit the applications of amparos (habeas corpus injunctions), which it says have been “abused excessively” by lawyers.

On Tuesday, June 7, the court approved a jurisprudence that would limit, specifically, amparos known as “seekers,” which have been requested by people who suspect they are under investigation for a crime, but have not yet been summoned by the prosecution.

The alleged culprits try to take advantage of these preemptive injunctions to protect themselves in advance or, in some cases, even flee the country, the court said.

On a vote of three to two, the first chamber of the court ruled that the mere suspicion of being under investigation does not give someone the right to claim an amparo that will both prevent their arrest and give them access to an investigation file.

In practice, however, the court decision could make it easier to arrest and detain suspected individuals. In many cases, prosecutors request arrest warrants without ever summoning the person under investigation to testify.

“The simple suspicion of being investigated does not give anyone the right to access an investigation folder. It is essential that the authorities first begin proceedings against the defendant before they are able to claim access to the records of the investigation,” said the majority.

The proceedings in question may be an arrest, summons or any form of detention, the court clarified.

“This way, when a person files a claim for an amparo against the refusal or omission of the Public Prosecutor’s Office to allow access to the investigation folder, but the claim brief and its annexes only mention that they have a suspicion or fear of being investigated and, in addition, the existence of a specific act of arrest or summons is not observed, it will be appropriate to dismiss the application for preventive protection outright,” the court said.

Most of the ministers also explained that the new penal system requires the preservation of secrecy in the initial stages of investigations.

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