09/03/13 – After five rounds of discussions, the Mexican Supreme Court (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, SCJN) decided to give constitutional status to international treaties signed and ratified by Mexico. At the fifth and final round of discussions, ten of the 11 Justices voted in favor of a ruling that will give human rights included in international treaties constitutional status.
In addition, with a majority of six votes in favor, the SCJN ruled that the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (ICHR) is binding for Mexican judges even if the ICHR did or does not expressly mandate or name Mexico in its ruling. This means that Mexican judges have to interpret all rulings of the ICHR, not just the ones in which Mexico has been or will be a party.
The historic ruling of the SCJN was, however, overshadowed by the decision to also maintain certain restrictions on rights imposed by the Constitution, such as arraigo. Justice José Ramón Cossío Díaz, who had repeatedly expressed that the Constitution cannot be considered above human rights treaties, voted against the draft arguing that this particular ruling does not set forth a general rule to follow when there is a conflict between a treaty and the Constitution—as could be the case for arraigo—, and thus leaves the judges to decide the matter on a case-by-case basis. With the rulling approved by the other ten Supreme Court Justices, Cossío explained that whenever there is conflict between a treaty and the Constitution, the judge will have to interpret and decide accordingly, thus altering the original purpose of the discussions to create a general rule on the hierarchy of international law human rights vis-á-vis the Constitution.
For more information on the debate regarding the hierarchy of international law within the Mexican legal system, please click here.
Sesión Pública Ordinaria del Pleno. Contradicción de tesis 293/2011. SCJN. September 2, 2013.
Mosso, Rubén. “Corte sienta precedente en derechos humanos.” Milenio. September 3, 2013.
Otero, Silvia. “Tratados Internacionales tienen rango constitucional: SCJN.” El Universal. September 3, 2013.
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