The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) Monday urged Mexico to repeal the mandatory pre-trial detention provisions from its constitution. Pre-trial detention, also known as automatic preventive detention, is provided for under Article 19 of the Constitution of Mexico. The article includes provisions intended to safeguard the rights of the accused, but WGAD believes those safeguards are not enough. WGAD argues that the article itself violates fundamental rights such as the right to life and liberty, the right to the presumption of innocence, due process and equality before the law.
Miriam Estrada-Castillo, the WGAD’s chair-rapporteur stated, “mandatory pre-trial detention is contrary to international guarantees for human rights protection, as the jurisprudence of the Working Group has indicated on multiple occasions.” Repealing Article 19 may also help Mexico resolve issues arising out of overpopulation in the nation’s prisons. WGAD urged Mexico to urgently repeal the law and offered technical assistance to work on the issue.
The Inter-American Court and Commission on Human Rights and Human Rights Committee and the Committee against Torture reached similar conclusions that the provision is arbitrary and violates the fundamental rights of Mexican citizens. The provision also violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Mexico has ratified. Apart from these rights, the provision also infringes on judicial independence as the responsibility to decide detention in specific cases is not left in the hands of judges.