Mexico

   

Quality of Democracy

#37
Key Findings
Struggling to contain corrosive organized-crime influences, Mexico falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 37) with regard to democracy quality. Its score in this area has declined by 0.8 points relative to 2014.

Elections are highly regulated, but crime-group activities undermine electoral integrity. The media is independent of government, but rampant violence against journalists makes reporting on corruption and collusion dangerous. A non-binding referendum, whose results were taken up by the government, resulted in the rejection of a new Mexico City airport.

The security forces frequently violate civil rights, with courts failing to provide adequate protection. A new ombudsman for human rights has been created, but the opposition has questioned the officeholder’s independence. Violent crime is widespread, with journalists and political candidates frequently murdered. Femicide is an increasingly serious problem.

While overt discrimination varies by region, class lines closely track racial divisions. LGBT rights are receiving increasing protection. Corruption is a serious problem in politics, the judiciary and the police. The court system is ineffective particularly at prosecuting powerful individuals. A judicial reform effort is underway, with some critics worried that it will undermine judicial independence.

Electoral Processes

#35

How fair are procedures for registering candidates and parties?

10
 9

Legal regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections; candidates and parties are not discriminated against.
 8
 7
 6


A few restrictions on election procedures discriminate against a small number of candidates and parties.
 5
 4
 3


Some unreasonable restrictions on election procedures exist that discriminate against many candidates and parties.
 2
 1

Discriminating registration procedures for elections are widespread and prevent a large number of potential candidates or parties from participating.
Candidacy Procedures
8
The electoral process is supervised by an autonomous agency, the Instituto Nacional Electoral (INE), following a constitutional reform in 2014 and the creation in 1990 of the Instituto Federal Electoral. INE is responsible for the registration of parties, candidates and voters, and for administering elections.

While in principle the process for registering political parties is open and transparent, high registration requirements as well as a bureaucratic and lengthy registration process create a strong status quo bias. To meet the requirements for registering a new national political party, organizations must demonstrate a minimum of 3,000 members, representation in at least 20 of the 32 states, and a minimum of 300 members in at least 200 electoral districts. Historically, the high barriers for party formation have served to discourage new and small political groups from challenging the established parties.

Since 2015, independent candidates have been allowed to run for office in national elections but the requirements for participating are high. To appear on the ballot, independent presidential candidates must collect more than 850,000 signatures nationally and obtain the support of at least 1% of registered voters in 17 states. In the 2018 elections, 48 independent candidates announced their candidacy for the presidency, but only two, Margarita Zavala and Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, managed to fulfill the requirements. After Zavala withdrew in May 2018, Rodríguez Calderón was the only independent candidate left, receiving 5.23% of votes in the presidential elections. María de Jesús Patricio Martínez – an independent candidate who was supported by indigenous groups and the Zapatista movement, but who failed to fulfill the criteria – criticized the process for being unfairly biased against the poor.

Close linkages between some candidates and organized crime, especially at the subnational level, as well as violence and corruption continue to undermine the integrity of the political system and the electoral process. Under the current government, this structural challenge is unlikely to change.

Citations:
Harbers, Imke and Matthew C. Ingram “On the engineerability of political parties: evidence from Mexico.” In:, I. van Biezen, and H. M. ten Napel. Regulating political parties: European democracies in comparative perspective (2014): 253-277.

To what extent do candidates and parties have fair access to the media and other means of communication?

10
 9

All candidates and parties have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. All major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of the range of different political positions.
 8
 7
 6


Candidates and parties have largely equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. The major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of different political positions.
 5
 4
 3


Candidates and parties often do not have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. While the major media outlets represent a partisan political bias, the media system as a whole provides fair coverage of different political positions.
 2
 1

Candidates and parties lack equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communications. The major media outlets are biased in favor of certain political groups or views and discriminate against others.
Media Access
6
The electoral process in Mexico is subject to a comparatively high degree of regulation. During the transition to democracy during the 1990s, electoral laws were revised to ensure more equitable conditions for the main political parties.

Currently, all registered political parties are eligible for public financing, the volume of which corresponds to their electoral strength. There are restrictions on the amount of money parties are allowed to raise and spend. Media access during the official campaign period is regulated to ensure a measure of equality. Nevertheless, outside the tightly regulated political campaigns, news coverage is often heavily biased in favor of incumbents. Presidents as well as governors spend exorbitant sums on advertising and pro-government propaganda. Since news outlets rely on this income for their financial survival, they can often scarcely afford to criticize sitting administrations. The Peña Nieto administration has taken this long-standing practice to new levels. According to a report compiled by the think tank Fundar based on government data, his administration spent nearly $2 on advertising in the past five years, substantially more than any previous administrations.

Broadcasting networks and newspapers depend on that money, the big television networks Televisa and Azteca receive around 10% of their advertisement revenue from the federal government. A Supreme Court ruling in November 2017 demanded further regulation and limitation, but the new provisions are yet to be implemented.

In the 2018 campaign, the winner, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was challenged by the mainstream media, although his use of social media and the support he received from activists successfully overcame this. The oligopolized market of traditional media has lost political weight. Once in office, López Obrador started a daily press conference, which is broadcast live on YouTube. This approach enables the president to avoid immediate press criticism and promote his agenda.

Citations:
New York Times (25 Dec 2017) “Using Billions in Government Cash, Mexico Controls News Media.”

To what extent do all citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right of participation in national elections?

10
 9

All adult citizens can participate in national elections. All eligible voters are registered if they wish to be. There are no discriminations observable in the exercise of the right to vote. There are no disincentives to voting.
 8
 7
 6


The procedures for the registration of voters and voting are for the most part effective, impartial and nondiscriminatory. Citizens can appeal to courts if they feel being discriminated. Disincentives to voting generally do not constitute genuine obstacles.
 5
 4
 3


While the procedures for the registration of voters and voting are de jure non-discriminatory, isolated cases of discrimination occur in practice. For some citizens, disincentives to voting constitute significant obstacles.
 2
 1

The procedures for the registration of voters or voting have systemic discriminatory effects. De facto, a substantial number of adult citizens are excluded from national elections.
Voting and Registration Rights
8
Mexico has had universal suffrage since 1953 and male suffrage since 1917. Legally, Mexico by and large conforms to the standards of electoral democracies, especially on the national level. The organization and administration of elections is managed professionally by the National Electoral Institute (INE). In recent years, INE oversight over state-level electoral institutions has increased. There is also a system of electoral courts, which are generally more professional and independent than the criminal courts. Citizens and party members can appeal to these courts if their political or electoral rights are violated.

Voters have to register through INE to receive a voter identification card. The same electoral register is used for federal and state or local elections. This may serve to discourage marginalized and less educated citizens from voting.

A total of 89,978,701 people, approximately 72.7% of the Mexican population, applied for the required ID in 2018.

Mexicans living abroad (about 10% of the population) are allowed to vote for the president, but turnout is extremely low, in part due to the difficult registration process. More than 11 million Mexicans live abroad, but only 100,000 participated in the 2018 elections.

In general, Mexican elections are considered mostly free and fair. Complaints concern vote-buying and some minor problems, such as the theft of 34 ballot boxes by armed groups. Violence is a major problem. During the 2018 elections, 133 candidates were killed, most of the candidates are presumed to have been murdered by organized criminal gangs.

Citations:
Miranda, Fernando (28 de junio de 2018). «Acaban campañas con récord en el nivel de violencia». El Universal.

To what extent is private and public party financing and electoral campaign financing transparent, effectively monitored and in case of infringement of rules subject to proportionate and dissuasive sanction?

10
 9

The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring to that respect. Effective measures to prevent evasion are effectively in place and infringements subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
 8
 7
 6


The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring. Although infringements are subject to proportionate sanctions, some, although few, loopholes and options for circumvention still exist.
 5
 4
 3


The state provides that donations to political parties shall be published. Party financing is subject to some degree of independent monitoring but monitoring either proves regularly ineffective or proportionate sanctions in case of infringement do not follow.
 2
 1

The rules for party and campaign financing do not effectively enforce the obligation to make the donations public. Party and campaign financing is neither monitored independently nor, in case of infringements, subject to proportionate sanctions.
Party Financing
4
Mexico’s elections are highly regulated by the state. This reflects a history of electoral fraud and rigged elections which resulted in distrust between parties and a desire to formalize rules. The National Electoral Institute (INE) is in charge of monitoring party compliance with electoral rules and regulations. It is also responsible for administering and auditing the public funding of parties.

By international comparison, public funding of political parties in Mexico is extremely generous. Political parties are mostly financed by the state and there are restrictions on the amount of fundraising permitted. INE also coordinates campaign advertisements for parties. Electoral expenditures have been similarly controlled. INE can and does impose significant sanctions on political parties if they fail to comply with funding rules. However, oversight is incomplete and INE audits have revealed illegal undisclosed funding to parties.

In 2018, registered parties received more than MXN 2 billion for campaigning and more than MXN 4 billion for permanent activities, a total of more than MXN 6.5 billion. PRI received more than MXN 1.6 billion, PAN more than MXN 1.2 billion, PRD a bit less than MXN 800 million, MORENA a bit more than MXN 600 million. The campaign 2018 was the most expensive in Mexican history.

While INE’s bureaucracy is by and large efficient and impartial, the weak rule of law and ineffective criminal courts undermine the integrity of elections. According to media reports concerning illegal campaign financing, for every peso spent legally, an estimated MXN 15 was spent illegally. Funds are often misused for vote-buying. Shortly after the elections, INE fined MORENA MXN 197 million for misusing a solidarity fund for victims of the 2017 earthquake. Almost MXN 65 million were spent without records. Morena’s main rivals, PRI and PAN, were also fined, although their fines were not as high. As previous examples of party financing scandals have shown (e.g., PRI MONEXGATE 2000, PAN AMIGOS DE FOX 2000 and PEMEXGATE 2012), illegal campaign financing had been proven and sanctioned years later, but without any effect on elections or campaigns.

Citations:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-44884993

Do citizens have the opportunity to take binding political decisions when they want to do so?

10
 9

Citizens have the effective opportunity to actively propose and take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through popular initiatives and referendums. The set of eligible issues is extensive, and includes national, regional, and local issues.
 8
 7
 6


Citizens have the effective opportunity to take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through either popular initiatives or referendums. The set of eligible issues covers at least two levels of government.
 5
 4
 3


Citizens have the effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure. The set of eligible issues is limited to one level of government.
 2
 1

Citizens have no effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure.
Popular Decision-Making
5
There are no provisions for legally binding referendums or popular initiatives at the federal level in Mexico so far. Though, in October 2019, the Mexican Senate approved a constitutional change giving citizens the possibility to vote in a recall referendum. This could result in a president and provincial governors being recalled after half a term. The House of Deputies, in which MORENA holds a clear majority, still has to approve the new regulation. In general, Mexican citizens are more likely to influence public policy through demonstrations or legal action than through popular decision-making.

In October 2018, an NGO organized a referendum on a planned airport near Mexico City, scheduled to be the third largest in the world. About one million Mexicans participated, a majority of almost 70% rejected the new airport. A novelty in Mexico, it was not legally binding, but the new government adopted the decision.

Access to Information

#32

To what extent are the media independent from government?

10
 9

Public and private media are independent from government influence; their independence is institutionally protected and fully respected by the incumbent government.
 8
 7
 6


The incumbent government largely respects the independence of media. However, there are occasional attempts to exert influence.
 5
 4
 3


The incumbent government seeks to ensure its political objectives indirectly by influencing the personnel policies, organizational framework or financial resources of public media, and/or the licensing regime/market access for private media.
 2
 1

Major media outlets are frequently influenced by the incumbent government promoting its partisan political objectives. To ensure pro-government media reporting, governmental actors exert direct political pressure and violate existing rules of media regulation or change them to benefit their interests.
Media Freedom
4
Officially, freedom of expression is protected and the media is independent from the government.

While media freedom is not severely restricted by the government, substantial restrictions exist on what news outlets can cover without fear of reprisal. Topics such as corruption or collusion between organized crime and public officials are particularly dangerous territory. According to data from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Mexico is one of the most deadly countries for journalists, surpassed only by Iraq and Syria. Between January and August 2019, 10 journalists were killed. Since 2000, 138 journalists have been killed, 24 have disappeared. These dangers particularly affect journalists working for subnational news outlets as well as those who report critically on corruption and linkages between politicians and organized crime. The federal government fails to act decisively to protect journalists. When journalists are murdered, there is broad impunity for their killers. Thus, even though press freedom is codified in national laws, in practice there are substantial restrictions on press freedom. Mexico ranked 144 out of 180 countries in the Press Freedom Index 2019.

Citations:
Reporter ohne Grenzen: https://www.reporter-ohne-grenzen.de/mexiko/

Articulo 19: https://articulo19.org/periodistasasesinados/

To what extent are the media characterized by an ownership structure that ensures a pluralism of opinions?

10
 9

Diversified ownership structures characterize both the electronic and print media market, providing a well-balanced pluralism of opinions. Effective anti-monopoly policies and impartial, open public media guarantee a pluralism of opinions.
 8
 7
 6


Diversified ownership structures prevail in the electronic and print media market. Public media compensate for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by representing a wider range of opinions.
 5
 4
 3


Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize either the electronic or the print media market. Important opinions are represented but there are no or only weak institutional guarantees against the predominance of certain opinions.
 2
 1

Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize both the electronic and the print media market. Few companies dominate the media, most programs are biased, and there is evidence that certain opinions are not published or are marginalized.
Media Pluralism
6
The Mexican media is much more diversified and politically pluralist than it was a generation ago, but ownership is still highly concentrated. Despite Peña Nieto’s telecommunication reform, broadcasting continues to be characterized by oligopolistic ownership. Two corporations, Televisa and TV Azteca, dominate more than 90% of the TV market. Regulators, like the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT), are essentially toothless.

Mexicans take full advantage of internet-based media, which have grown in both size and significance and offer a wide spectrum of information. In the 2018 elections, the left-wing candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, used social media as an alternative to mainstream media. The development of online media has done much to enhance pluralism through bypassing traditional, highly oligopolized media structures. On the other hand, however, internet-based media have also created new challenges. There are challenges regarding the journalistic quality of small and highly diverse media outlets. Furthermore, broadband and cellphone coverage is highly unequal, with rural and marginalized citizens unable to take advantage of these new sources of information. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced government plans on 11 May 2019 to create a public internet company, which will allow even those in the most remote areas of the country to access the internet, but it is unlikely to be carried out in the near future.

To what extent can citizens obtain official information?

10
 9

Legal regulations guarantee free and easy access to official information, contain few, reasonable restrictions, and there are effective mechanisms of appeal and oversight enabling citizens to access information.
 8
 7
 6


Access to official information is regulated by law. Most restrictions are justified, but access is sometimes complicated by bureaucratic procedures. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms permit citizens to enforce their right of access.
 5
 4
 3


Access to official information is partially regulated by law, but complicated by bureaucratic procedures and some poorly justified restrictions. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms are often ineffective.
 2
 1

Access to official information is not regulated by law; there are many restrictions of access, bureaucratic procedures and no or ineffective mechanisms of enforcement.
Access to Government Information
6
Mexico’s freedom of information act became law in 2002. The law was the first in Latin America to impose obligations on the state to publicly share information and increase the level of political transparency. INAI (Instituto Nacional de Transparencia, Acceso a la Información y Protección de Datos Personales) is an autonomous body, which aims to promote government transparency, monitor developments in open government and access to information, and settle disputes between citizens and government bodies over freedom of information requests. Mexico’s freedom of information act has proved to be a considerable success in increasing publicly available information. Scholars, journalists and bureaucrats have all made use of its provisions and a lot of new information has come to light.

Despite the progressive spirit of the law, however, the extent to which it is obeyed and enforced varies considerably. Powerful public and private actors can delay and obscure access to information, despite formal transparency laws. As is often the case in Mexico, there is a gap between theory and practice. The government response to the disappearance of a group of students in Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero, and the frustrated efforts by an international committee to investigate the role federal and local authorities and security forces played in their disappearance, is a case in point. President López Obrador installed in December 2018 a commission to conduct a new investigation into the case, fulfilling a campaign promise.

Citations:
AMLO creates super-commission to investigate missing 43 of Ayotzinapa, December 4, 2018, https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/commission-to-investigate-ayotzinapa/

Civil Rights and Political Liberties

#39

To what extent does the state respect and protect civil rights and how effectively are citizens protected by courts against infringements of their rights?

10
 9

All state institutions respect and effectively protect civil rights. Citizens are effectively protected by courts against infringements of their rights. Infringements present an extreme exception.
 8
 7
 6


The state respects and protects rights, with few infringements. Courts provide protection.
 5
 4
 3


Despite formal protection, frequent infringements of civil rights occur and court protection often proves ineffective.
 2
 1

State institutions respect civil rights only formally, and civil rights are frequently violated. Court protection is not effective.
Civil Rights
2
In principle, Mexico guarantees most civil rights via its legal and constitutional systems. Nevertheless, access to the court system and protection against violations are both highly unequal. Overall, the rule of law is weak, and there is widespread impunity the rule, which undermines the effectiveness of formally guaranteed rights.

The tension between formal rights and effective guarantees plays out especially forcefully in the field of security. Since 2006, more than 250,000 men and women have been killed in the “war on drugs,” with more than 36,000 killed in the first year of President López Obrador’s term in office – an average of 96 murders per day. The government has lost control of many parts of Mexico.

The Mexican military and other security forces are notorious for violating human rights, and the courts do not provide adequate protection to citizens victimized by the military or police. Since the beginning of the drug war in 2006, Mexico’s Human Rights Commission has received more than 10,000 complaints of abuse by the military. Federal prosecutors have opened more than 9,000 investigations, without a single conviction. An anti-torture law, passed in April 2017, is yet to be implemented. A new internal security law, passed in December 2017, legalizing military involvement in domestic law enforcement, was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in November 2018. In 2017, in response to public pressure, Mexico adopted a new law against forced disappearances. This law, which promises more resources for the issue and a national registry of missing people, has also not been implemented so far. By mid-2019, around 40,000 people are reported to have disappeared.

The government has appointed a new ombudsman for human rights in the Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH), Rosario Piedra Ibarra, a former member of the ruling party MORENA and a social activist. The opposition has been critical of the appointment and has accused Ibarra of not acting independently.

The security situation deteriorated markedly in 2018 and 2019, as the number of homicides has increased to the highest level since the state began keeping systematic records on crime and violence. More than 36,000 homicides were reported in 2018, while more than 14,000 were reported in the first six months of 2019. A total of more than 250,000 killings have been reported since the beginning of the so-called war on drugs. Against the background of escalating violence, it has generally been impossible to effectively hold the security forces to account for abuses. The disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa teaching college students is indicative and remains unresolved, although President López Obrador has installed a special commission to investigate the case. Human Rights Watch has spoken of the “human rights catastrophe” that the new president has inherited and recent news coverage claims that Mexico is continuing to lose the battle against the cartels.

Citations:
https://www.hrw.org/americas/mexico
https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/10/29/mexico-torture-and-historical-truth
https://www.elconfidencial.com/mundo/2019-06-25/mexico-desaparecidos_2087378/

To what extent does the state concede and protect political liberties?

10
 9

All state institutions concede and effectively protect political liberties.
 8
 7
 6


All state institutions for the most part concede and protect political liberties. There are only few infringements.
 5
 4
 3


State institutions concede political liberties but infringements occur regularly in practice.
 2
 1

Political liberties are unsatisfactory codified and frequently violated.
Political Liberties
4
Political liberties are guaranteed by law, and public debate and electoral competition are meaningful. If political rights are violated, citizens have access to electoral courts which are generally professional and effective. The National Electoral Institute (INE) is an independent body responsible for the administration of elections.

In many parts of the country, high levels of criminal violence undermine democracy. Public officials, especially at the local level, are kidnapped, harassed and even murdered with impunity. Between 2002 and 2018, 209 mayors, candidates and former mayors were killed, with 37 killed in 2018. Five regidores and 16 journalists were also killed in 2018.

While the lack of credible and capable legal investigations in such cases makes it impossible to know the true extent of the problem, there is considerable evidence that authorities are not merely inept. Rather, they are sometimes complicit in violating citizens’ political liberties. The justice system has proven to be particularly ineffective in prosecuting powerful rights violators, impunity for corruption-related crimes is 98% and high-level politicians are rarely sentenced or impeached.

Hence, Latinobarometro polls indicate that satisfaction with democracy in Mexico has fallen from 41% in 2006 to 16% in 2018, while support for democracy has fallen from 54% in 2006 to 38% in 2018.

Citations:
Schedler, A. (2014). The criminal subversion of Mexican democracy. Journal of Democracy, 25(1), 5-18.
http://www.latinobarometro.org/lat.jsp

How effectively does the state protect against different forms of discrimination?

10
 9

State institutions effectively protect against and actively prevent discrimination. Cases of discrimination are extremely rare.
 8
 7
 6


State anti-discrimination protections are moderately successful. Few cases of discrimination are observed.
 5
 4
 3


State anti-discrimination efforts show limited success. Many cases of discrimination can be observed.
 2
 1

The state does not offer effective protection against discrimination. Discrimination is widespread in the public sector and in society.
Non-discrimination
5
While there is a societal norm against overt racial discrimination, there is a significant correlation between race and class. Light-skinned Mexicans are over-represented among the wealthy and powerful. Data from the Latin American Public Opinion Project shows that they have significantly higher educational attainment and more material wealth. Social discrimination varies by region and setting. In urban centers, there is growing awareness around issues of gender and sexuality. The local constitution adopted by the Mexico City constituent assembly includes a number of liberal and progressive provisions. Nevertheless, more traditional gender roles and the political and social marginalization of women continue to be the norm, particularly in rural and less affluent areas.

Worth mentioning are gender quotas for parties and elections, included in the 2014 constitutional reform. Women now hold 49% of seats in the Senate and 49.2% of seats in the Chamber of Deputies. In this respect, Mexico is the leading country in the OECD. Additionally, five women ran as candidates for mayor of Mexico City, with Claudia Sheinbaum (MORENA) becoming the first woman to govern the city.
A crucial problem in gender discrimination are femicides. Between 2015 and June 2019, more than 3,000 women were murdered in Mexico, which marks a rising tendency.

The courts are increasingly assertive in taking up cases of gender equality, and LGBT and transgender rights. The Supreme Court ruled in October 2017 in favor of a transgender person against the state of Veracruz after the state had refused to change the person’s name and gender on their birth certificate. Another court ruling found in favor of same-sex marriage. In 2015, Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage. The government of López Obrador has taken further steps to strengthen LGBT rights. In May 2019, Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard announced that Mexican consulates around the world would start conducting same-sex marriages for citizens. Marcelo Ebrard had been a strong supporter of same-sex marriage while mayor of Mexico City.

However, while there is more awareness of gender and LGBT rights, attention to indigenous rights and other forms of social stigmatization is more limited, and, as is often the case in Mexico, there is a considerable gap between formal rights, and their effective guarantee and enforcement.

Citations:
Human Rights Watch (2018). “Mexico Ruling Backs Same-Sex Couple.” https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/11/01/mexico-ruling-backs-same-sex-couple
Human Rights Watch (2018). “Mexico Transgender Ruling a Beacon for Change.” https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/10/29/mexico-transgender-ruling-beacon-change
Zizumbo-Colunga, D. and Iván Flores Martínez (2017). “Is Mexico a Post-Racial Country? Inequality and Skin Tone across the Americas.” AmericasBarometer: Topical Brief #31, (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/lapop/insights/ITB031en.pdf).
https://www.dw.com/de/gegen-den-strom-frauenmorde-in-mexiko-werden-mehr-und-brutaler/a-50084080

Rule of Law

#33

To what extent do government and administration act on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions to provide legal certainty?

10
 9

Government and administration act predictably, on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions. Legal regulations are consistent and transparent, ensuring legal certainty.
 8
 7
 6


Government and administration rarely make unpredictable decisions. Legal regulations are consistent, but leave a large scope of discretion to the government or administration.
 5
 4
 3


Government and administration sometimes make unpredictable decisions that go beyond given legal bases or do not conform to existing legal regulations. Some legal regulations are inconsistent and contradictory.
 2
 1

Government and administration often make unpredictable decisions that lack a legal basis or ignore existing legal regulations. Legal regulations are inconsistent, full of loopholes and contradict each other.
Legal Certainty
4
Legal certainty is formally guaranteed by the Mexican constitution. With the government of López Obrador holding a majority in Congress, legal procedures are formally well-respected. De facto, rule of law continues to be characterized by an ineffective judicial system. Violence and crime, corruption and impunity undermine the rule of law.

In corruption-related crimes impunity reaches 98% and in homicides 97%. Beyond the problem of corruption, the rule of law in Mexico has been seriously hampered by the increasing violence associated with the war on drugs. Criminal courts lack transparency, which further undermines trust and confidence in the judicial system. Overall, the system is particularly ineffective when it comes to prosecuting powerful individuals, such as former public officials. In this context, and also due to the security crisis, existing legal regulations often do not effectively constrain government and administration.

In other areas of the law, for instance in the realm of business and the broader economy, the situation regarding legal certainty is much less dire.

To what extent do independent courts control whether government and administration act in conformity with the law?

10
 9

Independent courts effectively review executive action and ensure that the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 8
 7
 6


Independent courts usually manage to control whether the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 5
 4
 3


Courts are independent, but often fail to ensure legal compliance.
 2
 1

Courts are biased for or against the incumbent government and lack effective control.
Judicial Review
5
The Supreme Court, having for years acted as a servant of the executive, has become substantially more independent since the transition to democracy in the 1990s. Court decisions are less independent at the lower level, particularly at the state and local level. At the local level, corruption and lack of training for court officials are other shortcomings. These problems are of particular concern because the vast majority of crimes fall under the purview of local authorities. There is widespread impunity and effective prosecution is the exception, rather than the rule.

Mexico is in the process of reforming the justice system from a paper-based inquisitorial system to a U.S.-style adversarial system with oral trials. Implementation of the new system will most likely take a generation since it involves the retraining of law enforcement and officers of the court. So far, law enforcement has often relied on forced confessions, rather than physical evidence, to ensure the conviction of suspects. To make the new system work, the investigative and evidence-gathering capacity of the police will have to be significantly strengthened.

The government of López Obrador has initiated a judicial sector reform, with more than 50 new laws. This includes the creation of a unit in the Sectretariá de Gobernación to promote the reform of criminal law.

Overall, the courts do a poor job of enforcing compliance with the law, especially when confronted with powerful or wealthy individuals. Concern is growing that the government will undermine judicial independence. In general, mistrust in the judicial system is widespread, 68% of Mexicans think judges are corrupt and 45% do not trust them.

Citations:
EFE México (2018). Sistema penal acusatorio en México, avance histórico frenado por corrupción. https://www.efe.com/efe/usa/mexico/sistema-penal-acusatorio-en-mexico-avance-historico-frenado-por-corrupcion/50000100-3498116
Mexico Evalua 2019: Diagnostico inaugural, https://www.mexicoevalua.org/diagnostico-inaugural/

To what extent does the process of appointing (supreme or constitutional court) justices guarantee the independence of the judiciary?

10
 9

Justices are appointed in a cooperative appointment process with special majority requirements.
 8
 7
 6


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies with special majority requirements or in a cooperative selection process without special majority requirements.
 5
 4
 3


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies without special majority requirements.
 2
 1

All judges are appointed exclusively by a single body irrespective of other institutions.
Appointment of Justices
8
Mexican Supreme Court justices are nominated by the executive and approved by a two-thirds majority in the Senate. However, if no candidate achieves a majority, the president can appoint a justice without Senate approval. The system of federal electoral courts is generally respected and more independent and professional than the criminal courts. The situation is worse in lower courts, as judges are implicated in corruption or clientelist networks.

With the support of a majority in the legislative, AMLO has appointed two new judges to the Supreme Court, with a third one to follow soon, and three judges to the Consejo de la Judicatura Federal. The opposition has criticized all the appointments arguing that the candidates are loyal allies of the president, which would undermine judicial independence. Until 2021, AMLO will be able to appoint at least one more judge. In addition, a reform project proposed the creation of a new anti-corruption chamber in the Supreme Court, giving AMLO the option to appoint a further five judges.

Citations:
DW 2018. México: “El sistema anticorrupción está entrampado.” https://www.dw.com/es/méxico-el-sistema-anticorrupción-está-entrampado/a-42567912
Mexico Evalua 2019: Diagnostico inaugural, https://www.mexicoevalua.org/diagnostico-inaugural/
Latin News 2019: Weekly Report – 10 October 2019 (WR-19-40), MEXICO: Judicial autonomy under threat?

To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?

10
 9

Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 8
 7
 6


Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
 5
 4
 3


Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 2
 1

Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
Corruption Prevention
4
Corruption is widespread in Mexican politics, the judiciary and the police. Anti-corruption efforts so far have failed. During his presidential campaign, AMLO promised to prioritize the fight against corruption. So far, it is unclear how that could happen. According to Transparency Mexico, the president is widely considered to be honest by the public, while a majority of 61% of Mexicans believe he is doing a good job in fighting corruption.
Corruption was a key topic in the 2018 elections following widespread corruption scandals that are shaken the political arena. At the same time, efforts to implement the National Anti-Corruption System (SNA), which had been signed into law by President Nieto in 2016, floundered. At the subnational level, not even half of Mexico’s states have approved the required secondary legislation to implement the SNA.

According to a May 2017 study by Corparmex, the Mexican confederation of business owners, corruption costs Mexico around 10% of its GDP. In Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, Mexico ranked 138 out of 180 countries in 2018, a significantly deterioration in the country’s ranking compared to 2012.

The AMLO administration has intensified the fight against corruption. Nonetheless, the SPA, which is filled with MORENA allies, features only one position that has been subject to a proper nomination process: the head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Combatting Corruption. The SNA is currently developing an inclusive consultative process involving citizens, institutions, businesses, academia and subnational governments to improve national anti-corruption policies. A national SNA digital platform will provide information and improve coordination. In addition, the government has further integrated corruption into the criminal law system, increasing punishments and detention while awaiting trial. The Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera (UIF), a government agency focused on detecting and preventing financial crimes, has been the central actor in fighting corruption to date. High-ranking politicians, like the former Pemex CEO or the head of Pemex’s workers’ union, are the target of corruption charges related to the Odebrecht corruption scandal in Latin America.

Citations:
Latin American Regional Report: Mexico & NAFTA (August 2017) “Anti-corruption reform fails to convince.”
Transparencia Mexicana 2019: Barómetro Global de la Corrupción, https://www.tm.org.mx/barometro-al-2019/
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