translated from Spanish: Omissions and risk of two-year setback of the FGR Act

Incomplete or poorly applied provisions, time limits that were not followed, procedures that have not been followed, an institutional design that is in fact dead letter, and an imminent reform that seeks to make it disappear without having verified whether it actually worked.
That is the reality of the Organic Law of the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic (FGR) which today is exactly two years old having been approved and published in the Official Journal of the Federation (DOF), and which aimed to transform the old PGR into an autonomous and efficient institution, which reduced impunity and combated major criminal phenomena.
A report submitted last week to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), prepared by more than 200 organizations and specialists grouped in the Public Prosecutor’s Office that serves, reveals multiple omissions, delays and violations of the organic law of FGR, which have prevented the transformation of the institution.
You may be interested: Torture goes on and impunity too: FGR clarifies 3 out of 1,259 cases in this six-year
Although the PGR is now called FGR, more than 80 percent of its structure remains exactly the same as before and it is the organization and ways of working that marked the old law that was repealed. The results have therefore not changed: more than 90 per cent of serious crimes such as torture, human trafficking, attacks on freedom of expression, migration, organized crime, among others, are unpunished.
Responsibility for these irregularities, the report warns, is shared between the Senate of the Republic and the Attorney General, Alejandro Gertz Manero. And instead of amending the omissions, the experts indicate, is now intended to repeal the whole new law. The Senate has already convened a special session on January 15th to do so.
“The context has been marked by a clear lack of commitment to the commitment to materialize the characteristics of the new system and to deal with structural impunity through a truly autonomous prosecutor’s office (…); now a bill has been introduced that would repeal the current law, which is the product of joint work between government and civil society,” the report warns
In addition to the above, the report also warns that Congress has not allocated the necessary economic resources to realize the provisions that the law envisages, a situation that General Prosecutor Alejandro Gertz himself had warned since last January in a report delivered to the Legislative Branch, in which he noted that without sufficient budget the process of transition of the FGR was jeopardized.
Major omissions and violations
The report delivered to the hearing of the 178th Session of the IACHR breaks down a number of violations of the provisions of the Organic Law of FGR that began from the very appointment of the Attorney General, Alejandro Gertz Manero, and prosecutors specialized in issues of corruption, electoral crimes, internal affairs and human rights.
In the case of the Attorney General, experts question that the in-depth scrutiny of the law for the election of autonomous prosecutor was not carried out. Instead, within a period of just one month, the official who had already appointed the president as in charge of the old PGR was elected. “The whole process was characterized by a lack of strictness and transparency about the criteria used to select candidates, and by no citizen participation,” the experts say.
With regard to specialized prosecutors, section 22 of the act noted that the designation of these should be the result of a public competition in which the Attorney General valued the merits and capacities of the applicants and proposed them to the Senate which would have the capacity to object to it. Instead of all that and without anyone else’s involvement, Gertz directly chose those prosecutors.
Another serious omission has been the appointment of the five members of the Citizen Council of the FGR, one of the central figures provided for by the Organic Law to accompany and control the work of the institution, and to serve as a counterweight to the Attorney General. Under organic law, the Senate should have started with the appointment of the first member by May 15, 2019.
The reality is that after a year and a half after the expiry of that period there is not a single designated member and the procedure has not even been initiated. “This coincides with a widespread attitude on the part of the holder of the Attorney General’s Office to reject and ignore the concerns, proposals and needs of the victims’ own voice and civil society,” the analysis points out.
The absence of the Citizen Council directly affects one of the central elements of the functioning of the FGR: the formulation of a “criminal prosecution plan”, which is the basic document in which the Prosecutor’s Office annually must define its strategy of investigation and combating crime, as well as the objectives and indicators that allow to measure its implementation.
According to the same law, the wording of this plan must be submitted to the Citizen Council, a step that cannot be fulfilled as there is no advice. But it was also established that its formulation should take into account the diagnoses made by civil society and groups of victims.
The latter also did not happen because, what the attorney general did, is to send a plan drawn up by himself to the Senate, which to this day has not been transparent. It is also not known whether, as the law marks, the upper house analyzed the document and whether it issued recommendations around it or whether it approved it. The whole procedure around this point has been opaque.
Nor has the comprehensive presentation of the annual activity report been complied with, under the parameters set by the Organic Law. While Gertz Manero presented a document with figures on various activities, experts indicated that gertz Manero does not have the results or progress in criminal prosecution policy, a central component of that report according to the organic standard.
To all of the above, the public prosecutor’s office that serves, adds to the structural failures and that they are responsible for the current Prosecutor’s Office remaining fundamentally the same PGR but under another name.
For example, the law envisaged a transitional procedure that should necessarily include a purge of staff inherited by the old Attorney General’s Office that has not occurred. Nor has the so-called Career Training and Professional Service Centre been installed, which, according to the standard, should be responsible for designing the recruitment and professionalization procedure for the staff of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
“The reality is that none of the mechanisms for staff evaluation and foundation of the fiscal career have been driven by either the Attorney General or Congress,” the report delivered to the IACHR says.
As a result, the FGR continues to operate with the same structure and personnel as before. For example, the same subprocurures of Regional Control, Organized Crime, Federal Crimes, Legal Affairs, and others that do not exist in the current Organic Law of the FGR continue to operate.
In turn, this situation has prevented the implementation of the coordinated research groups and other work schemes envisaged by law. Worse, complications have arisen from duplication of areas such as the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office that is part of the new design, but which in turn coexists with the old Public Servant Crimes Unit attached to the sub-procedure of Federal Crimes, which have not been closed.
Read more: Reform proposal denies rights to victims and takes responsibility away from FGR: Search Commission
Without applying… and with the days counted
The coordinator of the senators of MORENA, Ricardo Monreal, presented in the upper house a reform initiative that, among other things, seeks to completely repeal the current Organic Law of the FGR and also modify the role of the prosecutor in the attention of other issues such as the search for missing persons. 
The proposal, which is expected to be discussed and, where appropriate, adopted during an extraordinary period convened on 15 January 2021, has been criticized by multiple organizations and even by other governmental bodies such as the National Search Commission itself of the Ministry of the Governorate.
In the report submitted to the IACHR, civil organizations and experts warned that this is an initiative (also promoted by the Attorney General), which seeks to erase a law that favored transparency, counterweights and respect for human rights, instead implementing a rule that they describe as “regressive” and incompatible with the new criminal prosecution system.
“The initiative aims to perpetuate a hierarchical prosecutor’s office, without controls, without transparency in which, due to its excessive formality, it will be difficult for the accusatory system to be implemented. It eliminates the principles of autonomy and accessibility as guiding principles of the institution,” the report warns.
Among the specific aspects that would be missed if the new law were passed, the report highlights that the obligation to inform victims of any act of investigation or the joint generation of research plans is no longer envisaged. It also eliminates the creation of special commissions with ind expertsependientes.
Particularly serious, the experts before the Inter-American Commission underline, it is the intention to eliminate in the rule that seeks to approve the existence of the Criminal Prosecution Plan and the Citizen Council, therefore they would be lost tools of control and counterweight that contemplates the current rule, even if they have not been implemented.
The initiative also seeks to restore figures such as that of the Organized Crime Prosecutor’s Office, a simile of the current SEIDO. These are, according to the experts, old structures in which isolated work was privileged rather than the joint investigation of criminal phenomena across different areas.
For its part, in an official statement, the Segob National Searching Commission called the initiative a “backtracking on the administration of justice” and a “denial of the rights of truth, justice and reparation.” It criticised seeking to exclude the FGR from forced disappearance committees and to delete the cases in which the FGR was required to attract cases for these crimes.
The experts alerted the Inter-American Commission to the same situation. “The initiative proposes to abolish functions and mechanisms that were necessary to make the Prosecution Service’s collaboration with the National Search Commission more operational,” they said in their report.
And in the meantime… Impunity
Official data show that the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic carries the same levels of impunity as it did at the stage when it functioned as a PGR. This is particularly noticeable in more serious crimes.
Political Animal he published, for example, that in the first 18 months of the current six-year period the Prosecutor’s Office only managed to send a judge 3 cases of more than 1,200 that he opened for the crime of torture, representing only 0.2 percent of cases This is even worse than the average of 1% of torture cases he managed to record between 2012 and 2016.
The report called “Fiscalometer”, prepared by the Collective against Impunidemia (composed of 24 organizations) also alerted the poor performance of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in cases such as disappearances, where more than 550 cases only managed to prosecute six, or in cases such as crimes against journalists where 98% of folders remain unpunished.
The FGR itself had recognized the low levels of clarification in the report it sent to Congress last January, and in which it, for example, reported that less than 3 percent of research related to trafficking and exploitation of women has been resolved.
As regards investigations related to allegations of serious human rights violations, only 1 in 10 cases have been sent to a judge, the Prosecutor’s Office acknowledged in that report.
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Original source in Spanish

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