03/23/13 – On March 8, the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District (Asamblea Legislativa del Distrito Federal, ALDF) convened to discuss the possibility of amending a preventative form of detention known in Mexico as arraigo. Arraigo is a juridical measure that can be solicited by the prosecutor before a judge within the respective district. Under current law, an arraigo detainee may be held without any formal arrest or criminal charges for up to 40 days, or up to 80 days with explicit judicial approval, as long as there is some allegation of connections to organized crime. It has been a controversial juridical instrument given that it prolongs detention without first establishing probable cause.
According to Excélsior, the Attorney General’s Office of the Federal District (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Distrito Federal, PGJDF) made its position clear regarding the issue of arraigo at the discussions this month in Mexico City. The PGJDF proposed to limit arraigo investigations to 20 days without the possibility of extension. In an interview with Excélsior, José Antonio Mirón Reyes, the assistant Attorney General for Legal Affairs, Planning, Inter-institutional Coordination, and Human Rights at the PGJDF (subprocurador Jurídico, de Planeación, Coordinación Interinstitucional y Derechos Humanos), stated that the PGJDF found 20 days a sufficient period of time for prosecutor investigations to be conducted, a position supported by members of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) within the Legislative Assembly. For its part, the PRD has expressed that it does not wish to see arraigo abolished. As well, Mirón also offered the PGJDF’s proposal to limit the use of arraigo only to individuals who have been found ‘presumably’ guilty of committed crimes–which merit preventive prison sentence, such as for crimes involving kidnapping, homicide, human trafficking, and organized crime. Nevertheless, presumptive responsibility for a crime remains a lax precondition.
According to authorities in Mexico City, an arraigo is issued in the DF on average every three days. As Excélsior reports, “[I]n 2012, 104 arraigo cases were solicited before a judge, making up 0.06% of the total criminal incidence rate in the Federal District. This means that of the 179,146 criminal investigations only 104 requested an arraigo.” Though Mirón denied the unconstitutionality of arraigo solicitations, he clarified that they should be used only in exceptional cases. The New Alliance Party (Partido Nueva Alianza, PNA/PANAL) is the only party currently pushing for the abolishment of arraigo.
Although supportive of arraigo, the president of the Governance Commission of the ALDF (Comisión de Gobierno en ALDF), Manuel Granados of the PRD has consented to establishing cooperative relations with the Human Rights Commission in Mexico City (Comisión de Derechos Humanos del DF, CDHDF).
To read more about the criticisms against arraigo and its history, click here.