Human Rights and Civil Society · Justice in Mexico · Transparency & accountability

Amparo filed against DF Human Rights Commission, High Court of Justice

10/26/2011 – Isabel Miranda de Wallace, president of the Organization to Stop Kidnapping (Alto al Secuestro), and the 2010 National Human Rights Prize winner, and Alejandro Martí, president of the México SOS organization, are taking action by filing an amparo against a Federal District Human Rights Commission case (Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal, CDHDF) and the High Court of Justice in Mexico City (Tribunal Superior de Justicia del Distrito Federal, TSJDF), which is the first incedent of amparo filing to fall under the new constitutional reforms to the Ley de amparo described above. The injunction was filed as the High Court of Justice considers the appeal of Alfonso Martín del Campo Dodd, a convicted murderer who is seeking recognition of his innocence for the second time since the crime occurred twelve years ago.

Amparo is an injunction unique to Latin America and primarily Mexico; it protects individual’s rights from inappropriate acts or failure to act by authorities. It is relevant in Mexico during the implementation of new legal reforms. Critics from Wallace’s group have stated that the Federal District’s Human Rights Commission, headed by Luis González Plasencia, is not defending the victims of a crime but only the defendant, thus failing to administer justice.

While interviewed by Adela Micha for Multimedia Image Group, Wallace stated that her organization filed an amparo to prevent the defendant from being declared innocent and warned that if the court did find del Campo innocent, Wallace would appear before the Supreme Court of Justice. Del Campo affirms that his 1992 confession of killing his sister and brother-in-law was extracted under police torture. Despite the defendant’s claims of police coerced confession, the court recognizes 68 other pieces of evidence pointing to his guilt, including firsthand witness identification. The appeals court judge called the confession “the only relevant piece of evidence” against del Campo.

An investigative piece by the Washington Post Foreign Service received a Pulitzer prize for reporting on del Campo’s case and the appeals process. According to the article, a major factor that contributed to del Campo’s conviction was that “in Mexico, confessions obtained by torture are often still considered as evidence, despite the laws that say confessions obtained by torture are inadmissible”. CDHDF became involved with the case when de Campo alleged that his confession was extracted through police torture including suffocation with a plastic bag and issued amicus curiae to the Seventh Circuit of the Federal Superior Court of Justice, petitioning for the release of del Campo. The amparo is important to this case because it could be reviewed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

In a media whirlwind following the controversial amparo, CDHDF President González Plasencia answered questions from different reporters and government officials about the meaning behind his commission’s defense of the case. First Inspector General Mario Patrón Sánchez and Isabel Miranda de Wallace demanded to know why the Human Rights Commission had not contacted any of the family of the murder victims or interviewed the children who were witnesses to the crime.Patrón Sánchez argued that since the Mexican constitution holds the initial confession as invalid anyway, that the CDHDF is arbitrarily becoming involved with the judiciary, especially in a case that has been previously decided and has several cases similar on the docket, when they should be protecting victims of human rights abuses. Additionally, Patrón argued that the Istanbul Protocol, which lays out the standard for documentation of torture, was not followed since the investigation was performed three years after the crime, therefore torture cannot be proven and the case should not be supported by the DF Human Rights Commission.

Plasencia responded that the criminal justice system has deficiencies and that the Human Rights Commission has to protect all victims who have suffered abuse of power, thus allowing them to become involved with the del Campo case. Plasencia also argued that his organization and Isabel Miranda de Wallace are on the same side and asked for the media to stop the speculative reporting. “It is naturally in my interest to explain what the meaning of our intervention is, because it is not permissible to say ‘we are defending a criminal’ because our work also contributes to the defense of the victims… We are giving a chronology of events for you to realize how things went in a timeline and… providing a list of procedural violations committed,” said Plasencia.

Regardless of the outcome of the del Campo case, the amparo is a bold citizen’s attempt to create transparency in the evolving Mexican judicial system and bring access to justice for victims of crimes to the forefront of the criminal justice sector.


Sullivan, Kevin.“Torture, A Ghost in Mexico’s Closet.” Washington Post Foreign Service. June 2, 2002.

Méndez, Alfredo. “SOS y Alto al Secuestro tramitan amparo contra TSJDF y CDHDF.” La Jornada. October 24, 2011.

“Sesión de preguntas y respuestas de la Rueda de Prensa por el caso Alfonso Martín del Campo Dodd.
Transcripción 84/2011.” Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal. October 25, 2011.

“Wallace insiste que Alfonso Martín del Campo Dodd es culpable.” Excelsior. October 25, 2011.

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