Crime and Violence · Human Rights and Civil Society · Transparency & accountability

Supreme Court: Prosecutors can withhold information from human rights commission

The country’s Supreme Court voted to approve changes to the federal criminal law that would allow the federal attorney general office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) to withhold information requested by the National Commission on Human Rights (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH) when doing so would endanger ongoing investigations or people’s security. The CNDH had argued that this amounted to a violation of human rights in itself and wanted full access to the agency’s investigation files.

However, the court ruled in favor of the PGR in a 7 to 4 decision upholding the law. The four dissenting justices criticized the majority’s ruling saying this would hinder the work of the CNDH and that those who suffered mistreatment in cases involving the PGR would be left defenseless. One of the dissenting justices, José Ramón Cossío, complained, “In those cases where there has been abuse, torture, disappearances—how will the commission get the means [or information with which to conduct inquiries]?”

Several constitutional scholars and other academics have also criticized this decision. Miguel Carbonell,  legal scholar from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) said this decision was a step backwards when it comes to promoting human rights. He stated that the CNDH only requests information from the PGR in order to determine whether someone from the agency is involved in a human rights abuse case. Furthermore, according to Carbonell, the commission never discloses this information and accusing it of doing so is akin to accusing it of a criminal offense.


Áviles, Carlos. “Corte ‘cierra’ los expedientes de PGR.” El Universal. Marzo 10, 2010.

Madrigal, Daniel Blancas. “La Corte propina revés a la CNDH a favor de PGR.” La Crónica de hoy. Marzo 10, 2010.

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