Human Rights and Civil Society

Film About Police Corruption Prohibited in Mexico

03/21/11— The documentary “Presumed Guilty” follows the life of José Antonio Zuñiga, a Mexican sentenced to 20 years in prison without trial for the murder of a person who he had never seen before. After two years in prison he was acquitted by his lawyers, Roberto Hernández and Negrete Layda, who “rebuilt his case step by step” to reveal the corruption of the police and judicial malpractice. The lawyers recorded the case on film, which has now become the documentary “Presumed Guilty.” The film was released in Mexico on February 18th, becoming the second highest grossing film until March 11th when  judge White Wolf Dominguez banned its showing. The ruling was issued in response to a lawsuit filed by the prosecution witness, Victor Manuel Reyes Bravo, who identified Antonio Zuñiga as a murderer, but claims to have not given consent to appear on tape.

The ban has enraged much of the Mexican population, including members of Congress and intellectuals, and many have begun to associate it with censorship of the media and a lack of freedom of speech. President Felipe Calderón was the first to state publicly that “a judge has no power to prohibit the exhibition of a film.”

The banning of the film has created an increasing desire to view the film, both nationally and internationally, and has been viewed in over 20 countries. It has also won over 12 awards at international film festivals. The money raised from the film is going towards a Mexican foundation dedicated to promoting criminal justice and to defending those like Antonio Zuñiga.

The Superior Tribunal of Justice of the Federal District (TSJDF) stated its committment to transparency, especially in its strong efforts to promote transparency within the judicial system by allowing videotaping of all trials in Mexico, whether criminal, civil, or commercial. It additionally noted that more resources would be needed to carry this initiative out.


Assía, Augosto. “Prohíben en México un filme sobre la corrupción policial.” Clarín. 04 de Marzo, 2011.

Carrasco Araizaga, Jorge. “Tribunal revoca suspensión de Presunto Culpable.”  Proceso. 8 de Marzo, 2011.

Longhi-Bracaglia, I. “Retiran de los cines la película sobre la corrupción de la justicia.” El Mundo. 07 de Marzo, 2011.

Por Agencia. “Autores de documental crítico con el Poder Judicial suspendido en México denuncian un intento de censura.” Google. 03 de Marzo, 2011.

Redacción. “Juicios se pueden filmar porque son públicos: TSJDF.” El Universal. 08 de Marzo, 2011.

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