The New York City Bar Association. Photo: New York City Bar Association

By KELIN DILLON

On Monday, Aug. 1, the New York City Bar Association released a statement accusing the actions of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) continued public threats against Mexican judges who rule against him as violating international law and the legal standards for judicial independence as outlined by the Mexican Constitution, the American Convention on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, culminating in the New York City Bar Association calling on the Mexican government to respect the nation’s judicial authorities in line with international law.

López Obrador has regularly used his daily morning press conference to speak out against Mexico’s federal judges, including incidents surrounding the criticism of Specialized Judge in Economic Competition Ramón Lozano Bernal and Second District Judge in Administrative Matters Specialized in Economic Competition, Broadcasting and Telecommunications Juan Pablo Gómez Fierro’s recent suspensions of AMLO’s state-prioritizing energy policies.

“Publicly announcing investigations against judges who have issued rulings against the government violates international standards because such conduct directly undermines the respect and independence of the judiciary, intimidates the judges involved, and deters them from independently performing their judicial duties,” read the New York City Bar Association statement, citing López Obrador’s recent infractions against Lozano Bernal and Gómez Fierro.

The New York City Bar Association went on to point out that AMLO’s administration has attempted to achieve undue vengeance against the aforementioned judges through political maneuvers, including publicly accusing them of corruption, and in the case of Gómez Fierro, opening financial investigations against him.

“After President López Obrador requested that a federal judge, albeit ostensibly independent of the executive branch, be investigated, the Federal Judiciary Council opened an investigation,” detailed the New York City Bar Association release.

“On May 1, the president of the Supreme Court (Arturo Zaldívar) announced that the investigation had found nothing irregular. However, on the same day, a Mexican journalist published an article about an investigation that the Financial Intelligence Unit, an agency under the control of the executive branch, was carrying out in relation to the judge and the judge’s family.”

According to the the New York City Bar Association, any credible investigations against judiciary officials should be conducted through nonpolitical channels and removed from public threats from other branches of the government, which could go on to affect the judicial branch’s impartiality.

“The New York City Bar Association opposes any action or statement by President López Obrador or his supporters that unduly interferes with the independence of the judiciary in Mexico,” concluded the release.

In his column for daily Mexican newspaper Reforma, political journalist F. Bartolomé criticized that the New York City Bar Association, an organization in a country outside of Mexico, has seemingly done more to defend the rights of Mexican judges than Zaldívar, the president of the Mexican Supreme Court, has. This, Bartolomé postured, could potentially be the result of Zaldívar’s political ambitions.

“It’s curious, while Arturo Zaldívar continues campaigning for who knows what political future, the lawyers from New York are more interested than the Supreme Court president in defending the judges,” said Bartolomé.

“One case is especially significant: that of Juan Pablo Gómez Fierro, who has become the symbol of the defense of legality against the whims of the 4T (AMLO’s so-called Fourth Transformation government),” continued Bartolomé.

“Zaldívar has not been seen defending this or any other judge with the forcefulness and, above all, with the arguments used by New York lawyers. If he really wants to raise his rating, perhaps the chief minister of the Supreme Court should be interested in judicial matters … instead of producing television miniseries.”

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