Magazine article SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico

High Court Appoints Commission to Investigate Violation of Civil and Human Rights against Journalist Lydia Cacho

Magazine article SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico

High Court Appoints Commission to Investigate Violation of Civil and Human Rights against Journalist Lydia Cacho

Article excerpt

Mexico's highest court (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nacion, SCJN) has agreed to appoint two respected jurors to investigate whether Puebla Gov. Manuel Marin Torres violated a journalist's civil rights when she was arrested last year and transported 20 hours across state lines to Puebla to face charges of libel and defamation.

In a 6-4 decision announced in late April, the SCJN appointed a two-person commission, comprising lower-court Judges Emma Meza Fonseca and Oscar Vazquez Marin, to study the circumstances surrounding the case and recommend to the high court whether sufficient grounds exist to try Gov. Marin on charges of violating the rights of journalist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro.

The Puebla governor, a member of the former governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), is accused of conspiring with textile-manufacturing mogul Kamel Nacif Borge to imprison Cacho on bogus charges. Cacho's book Los Demonios de Eden (Demons of Eden) describes several networks of pedophiles and child pornographers and indirectly links Nacif to convicted pedophile Jean Succar Kuri, a Cancun resident who has been held in a prison in Arizona (see SourceMex, 2006-02-22). A US federal judge recently granted a request for Succar to be extradited to Mexico to face pedophilia charges.

Chief Justice Mariano Azuela opposed move

Chief Justice Mariano Azuela Guitron was one of four members of the SCJN to vote against creating an investigative commission in the Cacho case. He said the facts did not demonstrate any serious violations, and the Congress or other political entities should take up the issue.

Azuela's stance angered Cacho, who runs a battered-women's shelter in Cancun. "It is very regrettable and shameful that the leader of our highest court could not recognize a clear violation of human rights despite the abundance of proof," said Cacho.

In the end, the position espoused by Justice Genaro Gongora Pimentel prevailed. "In a 6-4 vote, the court decided to proceed with the investigation of what appears to be a clear violation of the individual rights of someone who is fighting for social justice," said Gongora. "She wrote a book denouncing a network of pedophiles, and even mentioned some names. This is the type of bravery that is missing in Mexico."

Still, some legal specialists were surprised that the SCJN decided to intervene because the case had no precedent-setting consequences. "What is the purpose of involving this institution in a political-criminal matter, when there are other avenues to deal with this issue?" Sergio Lopez-Ayllon, a legal expert at the Center de Investigaciones y Docencia Economica (CIDE), said in an interview with the Mexico City daily newspaper Reforma.

Similar comments came from Jose Roldan Xopa, a legal expert at the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM). "I would be reluctant to have the court take on this investigation," he said.

Mexican Congress launches own probe

In addition to the SCJN investigation, the Mexican Congress, led by the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD) and the governing conservative Partido Accion Nacional (PAN), has also taken up the case. The Chamber of Deputies has taken initial steps to conduct its own investigation, which could lead to an impeachment of Marin. In late April, a special subcommittee (Subcomision de Examen Previo) concluded that there was sufficient evidence that Marin "engaged in serious violations of the Mexican Constitution and federal laws." The special committee is made up of 14 legislators, seven members from both the domestic affairs committee (Comision de Gobernacion) and the justice and human rights committee (Comision de Justicia y Derechos Humanos).

Marin has received mixed support from his party. The PRI members in the special commission voted with their PRD and PAN colleagues to support a congressional inquiry. …

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