The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has won one of his first campaign promises. The Executive published this Friday in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF) the decree that reforms articles 108 and 111 of the Constitution on the elimination of the presidential jurisdiction. The modifications, previously endorsed by the Chambers of Deputies and Senators as well as by the state Congresses, contemplate that “during the time of his mandate, the president may be charged and tried for treason, acts of corruption, electoral crimes and all those crimes for which a citizen could be prosecuted ”.
Until now, article 108 establishes that the president can only be tried during the time of his mandate for treason and serious crimes of the common order. This procedural immunity is also used by other public officials, such as senators and deputies. The jurisdiction is based on the argument that during their tenure, the president and the legislators are obliged to dedicate themselves to providing care to the Mexican people, so they cannot be prosecuted or detained.
The amendment to article 111 specifies that to proceed criminally against the Executive, it will be necessary to accuse him before the Chamber of Senators and in this case, the Chamber will decide based on the applicable criminal legislation.
Since the beginning of his government, López Obrador has attacked this figure, associating it with his crusade against corruption and impunity, and after almost two years of walking around the legislative corridors, the elimination of the presidential jurisdiction will be a reality from this point on. Saturday.
The initiative was approved, with 89 votes in favor, by the Upper House last November. However, even last week the opposition deputies charged against the reform and described it as a “simulation”. Mónica Bautista, deputy for the PRD, pointed out that “as long as the procedure to establish criminal responsibilities to the president depends on a majority in Congress and is not a power of an autonomous prosecutor’s office, the criminal procedure against the acting president has no possibility to be carried out ”.
Saúl López Noriega, professor at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE), explained that the reform expands the menu of crimes for which the president can be criminally charged. However, he warned that there is still a requirement to remove that procedural protection, which is that it is approved by a majority in the Senate. “Politically it is very difficult to find a scenario where a two-thirds majority can come together,” he said.
The specialist in judicial issues pointed out that despite the fact that in the political imaginary the jurisdiction has been linked to a kind of protection for the impunity of the political class, it is a figure created to prevent criminal law from being used as a “political weapon” to intimidate, threaten or inhibit a ruler or official. In addition, he explained that the fact that a governor or official has jurisdiction does not imply that the accusations against him disappear if they not only stop while he is in office and are resumed once the person ceases to be a public servant.
López Noriega added that although the amendment to article 108 establishes that the president may be prosecuted like any citizen, article 111 maintains as a requirement that said accusation must have the endorsement of two-thirds of the Senate, a prerogative that the rest do not have. of people. “The political protection padlock continues,” he settled. For the expert, beyond the possibility that the procedural protection of the president may be removed, the most pressing priority of Mexican justice must be the strengthening of the country’s prosecutors.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.