10/27/12 – As part of the effort to reform the judicial system in Mexico, Luis Alberto Villarreal of the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN) presented his party’s plans to change the Attorney General’s office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR), to make it autonomous of the President. Villareal, the coordinator of the PAN legislators in the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados), presented the proposal on Tuesday, October 23. The proposal would transform the PGR to a new model for the Attorney General’s office, known as the Fiscalía General de la República. Under the previous PGR model, the Attorney General was always appointed by the President, making the PGR less accountable and compliant to the President. Under the PAN’s proposed Fiscalía model, the Attorney General would be elected by a two-thirds vote in the Senate and would be its own entity, with autonomy of budget, administration, and legal status. Following the change of the national Attorney General’s office, the initiative would later be adopted individually by each of the 31 states and the Federal District.
Villarreal states that the transformation to the Fiscalía will create a real equilibrium of power and be a “deep structural change, based in the autonomy of the new Attorney General offices and each action will be far from any overtone, interest, or political vengeance.” He relates it to the change of the PGR’s Office of Special Investigations on Organized Crime (Subprocuraduría de Investigación Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada, SIEDO) to SEIDO (Subprocuraduría Especializada en Investigación de Delincuencia Organizada), as this change has been a real change of institution, rather than simply a change of name. If the proposal passes, the Fiscalía, as the PGR now, will be obligated to pursue all federal criminals, apprehend the accused, investigate crime scenes and present evidence, and ensure that the judicial process is quick and efficient.
This change has been debated for quite some time. Former President Vicente Fox presented the idea in 2004, with no success. As the proposal progresses through the legislature, Mexico will wait to see if the proposal can succeed and help to advance the implementation of the justice system reform at the federal level.