Crime and Violence · Human Rights and Civil Society

Anti-discrimination and human trafficking laws have limited effect

The Mexican government can take pride for having been a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1979, passing the Law for the Prevention and Punishment of Human Trafficking (Ley para Prevenir y Sancionar la Trata de Personas) in 2007, and having expressed support for human rights in many other instances. However, many people remain dissatisfied for it has struggled to enforce this legislation.

For example, the 2007 anti-human trafficking law officially came into effect in February of last year. However, it was only until December of 2009 that the commission tasked with implementing its provisions met for the first time. Mexican Senator Irma Martínez Manríquez has complained that the federal government has been slow to comply with the law’s requirements. She claims that in the context of the country’s drug war, combating human trafficking is all the more important since these activities provide a large source of income for organized crime. Another example of the criminal justice system’s slowness involves the special public prosecutor’s office in charge of enforcing the previously mentioned law, FEVIMTRA.

The “Fiscalía Especial para los Delitos de Violencia contra las Mujeres y Trata de Personas” (FEVIMTRA) is a special federal task force created in early 2008 to investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes and acts of violence against women. Though at least 30 investigations had been opened by mid 2008, only two have resulted in indictments. Still now, there has been criticism for lack of effort to prosecute these crimes.

Olgo Sánchez, one of Mexico’s Supreme Court Justices, has said that some state laws still treat women unequally and must be reformed. Reducing gender discrimination requires new efforts at the municipal and state level. Local legislatures must reform family and civil law at the regional level in order for there to be substantive changes in women’s lives. It would appear that federal laws and international agreements are not enough by themselves. All levels of government (and society) must participate.


Martínez, Fabiola. “Instalan comisión para prevenir y sancionar la trata de personas.” La Jornada. Julio 17, 2009.

Ochoa, Sonia García. “La ley se convirtió en ‘letra muerta’: Irma Martínez.” El Sol de Tijuana. Febrero 8, 2010.

Pulso Jurídico. “Discriminan leyes a mujeres en México: Olga Sánchez.” El Sol de México. Febrero 4, 2010.

Tapia, Monserrat Barrera. “Crean fiscalía para delitos contra mujeres y trata de personas.” El Financiero. Enero 31, 2008.

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