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Judicial Independence in Mexico

Judicial Independence in Mexico
By Alenka Salazar
Posted: 2023-12-07T17:09:18Z

Launching of the report "Judicial Independence: Where are we? A subnational analysis" in Mexico.


On November 21, the presentation of the report "Judicial Independence: Where are we? A subnational analysis" took place in Mexico City. The report was co-published by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Mexico and Mexico Evalua. Additionally, the document "The status of Judicial Independence in Mexico. The budget in the federal entities" by Impunidad Cero was presented. The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice and the Mexican Bar Association also attended the event.


To introduce the presentation of both documents, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Margaret Satterthwaite, shared some of the ways in which judicial independence can be violated, such as limiting the judiciary's control over judicial appointments and discipline processes; harassment towards the judiciary; the adoption of measures that change the composition of the courts, such as creating new courts or incorporating new chambers in existing courts; direct attacks on judges; attacks related to their private lives; and criminalization and persecution of judges, especially when related to their judgments.


The "Judicial Independence: Where are we?" report aims to verify the extent to which the guarantees of judicial independence in international standards are reflected in the regulations of Mexico’s 32 states, as well as in the internal practices of the judicial branch and in the actions of the other branches. This practical-use report is the first of its kind in Mexico and intends to allow each state to identify which aspects of judicial independence can and should be strengthened.


For its elaboration, three dimensions of judicial independence were taken into consideration: functional independence, related to the absence of factors that influence judges when issuing their judgments; professional independence, referring to the rights of judges; and institutional independence, which ensures that the judiciary functions properly without tensions with other branches of the government. To perform it, a mapping of international standards was carried out, from which 51 indicators were selected for the report. Likewise, for the analysis of this report, not only a normative review of the guarantees of judicial independence was carried out but also a documentary review to consider whether these guarantees contemplated in the regulations are implemented in practice.


Some relevant observations on the report by the speakers were repeatedly mentioned; the considerable number of indicators used; the fact that it is not limited to the study of de jure independence but also de facto independence; the reasonably up-to-date information to the date of publication; and finally, the use of the feminine generic language instead of the masculine generic. This means that the words "juezas," "magistradas," "juzgadoras," and "funcionarias" were used to refer to both genders. It was pointed out that this decision is based on the recognition of the structural inequality faced by women working in the judiciary in Mexico.


On the other hand, during the presentation of the document "The status of Judicial Independence in Mexico. The budget in the federal entities," the guarantees for judicial independence related to the judicial budget were addressed. The authors made reference to the four guarantees contemplated in Mexico's local constitutions, which are; establishing a minimum percentage for the judicial budget; the prohibition of its reducibility; explicit although diffuse guarantees, such as the recognition of the managerial autonomy of the judiciary and the implicit or absent ones. They also shared some challenges in the litigation for the defense of the guarantees of judicial independence. Subsequently, the Magistrate President of the State of Mexico shared a few words about the administration of the judicial budget in his state.


Magistrate Gloria Avecia Solano, a member of the IAWJ Mexico Chapter, also attended the event and made valuable contributions regarding the challenges faced by the Mexican judiciary.