translated from Spanish: Mexico celebrates more than a year without a victims commissioner

For more than a year, the commission responsible for dealing with the victims of serious human rights violations in the country or of crimes that need to be compensated and repaired does not have a person to head it, nor does it have a formally appointed official. Despite the fact that the candidates have appeared since March, there is no date in the Senate for the nominations to take place.
Meanwhile, the Executive Commission for Attention to Victims (CEAV) continues to operate inertially with multiple structural problems: excessively bureaucratic and complex processes, more than 450 amparos issued against them for violating the times that the victims law establishes, delays in more than three thousand resolutions of attention to victims, lack of personnel and at the same time dismissals, collaborators who work for outsourcing, fines for non-compliance with sentences, among others.
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There are cases that have occurred for years, such as that of the victims of the grenades in Michoacan or that of the parents of the ABC Nursery that, according to their lawyers, still cannot be closed properly.
“There is a clear disinterest and abandonment. Many matters came to a stands order precisely because the victims’ commission said it had no commissioner and no one signed. Then there was a manager who also resigned then obviously this resulted in further delay in the issuance of resolutions of compensation or reparation of damages for human rights violations,” said Reyna Velasco, a lawyer specializing in victim care cases.
Political Animal he sought the CEAV to ask the name of the person currently responsible for the direction and operation of that commission. In response, the commission did not provide the name of anyone specifically, and only noted that “the directors-general” of each area are responsible for the functions that the rule states. This is without affecting the operation of the organism.

And regarding the dismissal of officials, the CEAV officially acknowledged that “there have been changes in the workforce,” but said that the objective is to look for “more professional” profiles and that work is being done to fill the current vacancies.
The Senate of the Republic was also sought to find out if there is already a date set for the election of the next head of the CEAV. The official answer was that not yet because the voting procedure is by ballot and, therefore, is subject to a face-to-face session when the pandemic allows it.
Resignations and scandal
The last Executive Commissioner of Victim Care in the country was Mara Gómez Pérez who only lasted just over six months in that position. His resignation, submitted in June 2020, came after two weeks of strong protests by relatives of missing persons demanding his replacement due to a lack of results.
At the time of his resignation, Gómez Pérez accused that the ceav’s function had been “perverted,” that its original design, designed to provide comprehensive care for victims, had become a purely client structure, and that the audits carried out on previous efforts had revealed numerous facts of possible corruption.
In this context, the commissioner accused in a letter addressed to the Senate that the austerity measures promoted by the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador would deepen the institutional crisis in the CEAV, putting at risk the viability of its operation.
“You cannot transform an institution and effectively address its responsibilities without the necessary support, both financial and institutional,” the commissioner said.
After the departure of Mara López, the GOVERNING BOARD of the CEAV chose Andrés Vázquez as the person in charge of the office, in order to occupy this position while the process to elect a new head of the institution was developing. However, on 4 January, the official also submitted his resignation, without detailing the reasons for this.
In March, nine months after the departure of the last commissioner, the Senate of the Republic held the appearance of the three candidates to occupy that position: Martha Yuriria Rodriguez Estrada, Claudia Lilia Cruz Santiago, and Luis Fernando Rosas Ramirez.
What follows is the preparation and presentation of the opinion in which the winning candidate is selected and presented for approval in committees, and then before the plenary.
This is precisely what has not happened and there is no date for it. Nor has it been mentioned as a priority by any of the legislators.
The candidates who pairThey said they were not clear when there will be a decision on it.
Political Animal he sought the office of Senator Ricardo Monreal, president of the Political Coordination Board, to learn about some progress on the procedure. The answer is that the process is being conducted by the Interior Commission chaired by Morena Senator Monica Fernandez.
The senator, for her part, responded to this media that her committee has already prepared the opinion on the suitability of the three candidates, and now it is up to the board of directors to convene a face-to-face session so that the procedure can continue. However, since it has to be a face-to-face session this has not been able to materialize because there are sanitary restrictions.
“We already did our part and sent it to the board of directors. What we have to do now is for the issue to be addressed in a face-to-face session because this election requires voting by ballot, in a transparent ballot box and a ballot paper. The standing committee that is operating now is not empowered for that and we have to wait for the regular term to start on September 1,” the senator said.
Fernandez acknowledged that the process to elect the head of the CEAV has been complex, and that the situation has been further delayed by the health pandemic. However, he said he was confident that this appointment could be finalized in the coming months.
The structural crisis
Last February this outlet revealed that payments to victims for damage reparations (operated and authorized by CEAV) had decreased by more than 80 percent. This also coincided with the problem of many officials of the commission itself who work without a contract, and with the growing number of amparos issued against them for not complying with their legal obligations.
The diagnoses that the Senate received on the situation of the commission on the occasion of the appearances of the candidates to lead that body confirmed that there is a structural crisis in the CEAV.
For example, until the end of last year there was a backlog of 3,279 requests for access to the National Registry of Victims (RENAVI) through which a person or persons are officially recognized as victims of a case of human rights violations or a federal crime. This delay is serious given that without admission to RENAVI there is no other type of support, compensation or reparation.
Added to this is the bureaucracy involved in the procedures, which manifests itself, for example, in the delays in issuing notifications, which can take even months. There are many cases in which the Commission has also lost some of the stationery in the files, a situation which forces the victims to re-complete procedures and delay all the procedures for years.
Victims require a legal advisor (lawyer) to accompany not only their criminal proceedings but also in everything related to the provisions of the General Law of Victims. For this the CEAV has advisors, however, these are exceeded by workloads. This is in addition to the fact that his salary is up to three times that of a federal public defender.
There are times when slow procedures are the responsibility of other institutions that make up the National Victim System. For example, in the field of health, there are measures that INSABI is responsible for carrying out, but it does not do so. The same is true in cases of human rights violations where it is the responsible institution that should assume reparations, but the CEAV lacks mechanisms to enforce this.
In this context, the commission assumes a role as a subsidiary support entity, but by not having sufficient infrastructure or adequate procedures, it ends up revictimizing people seeking care.
Proof of this is that until the end of 2020 the commission already accumulated 453 amparo proceedings opened against it by victims who have had to resort to the judges due to the lack of response or solution to different procedures by the CEAV. 
“In the same 2020, the Executive Commission of Attention to Victims had 38 fines against its owner in the amount of 328 thousand 468 pesos, due to the non-compliance with the sentences of a judge in favor of the injured. Fines that in the absence of a holder in the CEAV can not be executed either, “indicates the diagnosis.
At the same time, the agency suffers from a lack of specific care schemes according to the types of crimes and human rights violations it faces. And it is not the same to attend to a matter of a serious violation of human rights than another of negligence in a medical service, however, the plans or strategies are often the same.
Another problem is the institutional wear and tear that existe in the comprehensive care centers that the CEAV has in the country and where the staff has not received a process of attention and psychological containment despite the magnitude of the cases that accompany and the risk in which in many cases they are also exposed.
“There are no protection tools for personnel who in some cases have to perform errands that put their safety at risk,” the diagnoses indicate.
To this situation is added the fragility in the working conditions of the CEAV’s own collaborators. Officials who work without contracts, or who do have them, but only for short periods of three months, a situation that generates instability and uncertainty.
An example of this is the Gender Unit where former officials who worked there confirmed that only this year has staff who already collaborated via outsourcing been removed.
“The commission’s operation is on the verge of collapse,” said Mara Gomez, the ceav’s last commissioner before leaving her post. He criticized that more than 60 percent of its staff were not hired with a base, and that its continuity was at risk after austerity measures were promoted that affected its operation.
In fact, in the last year, the CEAV budget decreased from 855 million pesos in 2020 to 843 million pesos in 2021. To this was added the elimination of the trust through which the fund for the payment of aid and reparations to the victims was managed. This resource is now controlled directly by the Ministry of Finance.
Victims… revictimized
To try to speed up their procedures before the CEAV, from registration in renavi to resolutions for the payment of supports, many victims – even of cases of great social impact – have had to litigate in court against the commission itself that on paper should be their ally.
Of the 453 amparo proceedings that had been brought against the commission until the end of last year, three were of the victims of the Tlatlaya case; five for the so-called “dirty war”; 50 for the case of The Hornets; 63 trials in the Tanhuato case; 82 by the ABC Nursery, and 250 legal proceedings for other human rights violations.
Attorney Reyna Velasco, who specializes in the legal representation of victims, is handling cases such as that of Elvira Santibañez, who was tortured by elements of the Mexican Army in 2014. Although the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) itself has already confirmed the facts in a recommendation, it has not been compensated to date.
The problem, Velasco explains, is that the CEAV has not issued a resolution in a timely manner to proceed with the repair of the damage. It was necessary to resort to an application for amparo – granted by a judge – to force the commission to issue such a decision. And even with that it remains unchanged to this day.
The lawyer explains that the problem is aggravated because it is common for the commission to promote complaint appeals against the amparos that the victims win, which further lengthens the proceedings. 
Another example is the victims of the grenade attack during the celebration of September 15, 2008 in Morelia, Michoacán. Despite the fact that more than 13 years have passed since these events, there are people affected who still do not receive the support to which they are entitled. Velasco filed three amparos in this case for refusing to recognize those affected as victims, for omissions in the issuance of compensation resolutions, and for not granting aid and assistance measures.
In this context, the expert considered that the absence of a single person responsible for the head of the CEAV has further aggravated the situation And although she said that there are serious problems of origin within this institution that come from previous six years, in the current federal administration there does not seem to be urgency or concern to reverse this situation.
“Whoever signs the resolutions is the legal area of the commission, but yes … the processes are still very slow and in general I think that in this administration the commission of victims has been one of the most inefficient. Resolutions are issued, but the procedure remains slow,” the expert said.
Read more: The other takeover of victims: 7 months on the sit-in at ceav lobby
We continue to operate: CEAV
The CEAV delivered an official position to this media in which it warns that despite the lack of a head in the agency, the different areas continue to work normally under the supervision of the different directorates. This is subject to the measures that have had to be taken because of the health pandemic.
The organization highlighted in this task the follow-up that has been given directly from the Undersecretariat of Human Rights of the Secretariat of Gobernation (Segob) in charge of Alejandro Encinas, in order that there are no alterations in the services.
Regarding the departure of officials, the CEAV said that they have tried to find better profiles and that work is being done to fill the vacancies that currently exist. His reply is reproduced in full below:

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Original source in Spanish

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