04/17/12- On Monday April 16, 2012, the Attorney General of Mexico City (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Distrito Federal, PGJDF) announced new procedures for “presenting” individuals accused of crimes in front of news media.
The change in procedure is seen as a response to recommendations by the Federal District’s Human Rights Commission (Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal, CDHDF). In the past, arrested individuals were presented in front of the media upon arrest and prior to being found guilty (or innocent) of a crime. According to the CDHDF, this is an obvious contradiction of presumed innocent doctrine.
Following the PGJDF’s announcement, the accused will only be presented after having been identified by multiple victims, or if they are thought to be involved in other criminal activity. They will also no longer be forced to hold weapons or other objects associated with the crime that is being investigated, nor will they be forced to pose, make gestures, or remove their clothes. Police officers that accompany the individuals being presented will also no longer be allowed to show their weapons. In addition, detainees younger than 18 years of age can no longer be presented in front of the media at all.
The PGJDF emphasized the reason for the change in policy being the fact that those being presented may or may not actually be culpable, although the presentation makes it seem like the arrested individuals have already been found guilty for the crime for which they were arrested.
Journalists, reporters, and others from the media have also been asked per the agreement to behave respectfully at presentations, respect the dignity of those being presented, and to avoid questions or comments that could be considered degrading. Members of the media will also be prohibited from directly interacting with those being presented.
Finally, the new agreement states that presentations will only include statements concerning the facts and reasons for which the accused are being investigated, and the modus operandi.