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Proposal to eliminate automatic pretrial detention not approved by the SCJN

Mexico City, Mexico — UPDATED: By a majority vote, the plenary session of the Court will not approve a proposal to eliminate automatic pretrial detention. After a recent meeting between the Ministers of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, seven voted against and four in favor of eliminating automatic pretrial detentions under Article 19 of the Constitution.

After more than two hours, the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (SCJN) discussed the precautionary measure that establishes that any person who is linked to a trial for any of the 18 crimes provided for in article 19 of the Constitution must be automatically held to avoid evading justice and ensure their court appearance.

Minister Norma Lucía Piña Hernández stated that invalidating informal pretrial detention does not mean that people who are in prison will be released or that criminals will not be punished as established by the law.

“Preventive detention as a precautionary measure is not eliminated, only its automatic imposition because it does not guarantee the presumption of innocence at all… It becomes an anticipated sentence and breaks its exceptional character,” she said.

After both sides expressed their opinions regarding the automatic pretrial detention of Article 19, the law stands.

In Mexico, people charged with certain crimes are automatically held in detention while their lawyers collect evidence and a trial date is set.

UPDATE: Minister Luis María Aguilar, who made the initial proposal, has since withdrawn it. On Thursday, he announced he has withdrawn the proposal after two days of discussion regarding Article 19 of the Mexican Constitution.

He said he withdrew in order to present a new project in the future that would achieve the greatest consensus among the 11 ministers.

“I withdraw the project to rebuild the proposal and thereby try to unite the connection points in order to propose a new methodology,” he said.

Through a statement, the Government of Mexico indicated that leaving the decision to apply informal preventive detention in the hands of judges would generate additional pressure on them, exposing them to corruption and violence.