With a historic judgment, the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice concluded that urgent action requests of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances were binding and mandatory to states party to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
An urgent action is a request from the Committee to a State party to immediately take all necessary measures to search for, locate and protect a disappeared person, and investigate the disappearance (article 30 of the Convention.)
The highest court of the Mexica said ‘Since the Committee is the body authorized to interpret the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, with the purpose of requesting a State party -such as ours- to take the necessary measures for the timely finding of a disappeared person in order to guarantee his right to be searched for. Thus, the Chamber concluded that denying the binding nature of the decisions of the aforementioned Committee would imply depriving the International Convention of any useful effect.’
The judgment is historic as it is the first judgment recognizing the binding and mandatory nature of the Un Committe’s urgent action requests.
The UN hailed the judgment with a statement and said: “The Committee on #EnforcedDisappearances welcomes the historic decision of the Mexican Supreme Court that recognizes the binding character of #UrgentActions issued by the Committee.”
In the same statement the UN said that the judgment
- recognized the obligation of the prosecution to undertake the search in order to determine the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared youth, as well as to investigate the facts that led to his disappearance and his possible perpetrators;
- recognized the mandatory nature of urgent actions issued by the CED; and
- recognized the right of the relatives of a disappeared person to participate in search and investigation procedures.
We translated the Press Release of the Mexican Court to English
Press Releases No. 172/2021
Mexico City, Mexico, June 17, 2021
COMPLIANCE WITH THE URGENT MEASURES AND ACTIONS ISSUED BY THE UN COMMITTEE AGAINST ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE IS MANDATORY FOR MEXICAN STATE AUTHORITIES:
FIRST CHAMBER The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, in a remote session of the First Chamber, resolved that compliance with the urgent measures and actions issued by the Committee on Enforced Disappearances of the United Nations (UN) is mandatory for the authorities of the Mexican State, in its different skills/competencies. Furthermore, such compliance must be judicially and constitutionally supervised.
This determination emanates from the review of an protection trial in which a mother, in her own right and on behalf of her son victim of enforced disappearance since 2013, claimed from various authorities of the State of Veracruz: (a) the omission to implement, coordinate and carry out a diligent, exhaustive, impartial and serious investigation to achieve the location of her son; (b) the omission to carry out the proceedings for the prosecution of the crime of disappearance, as well as to find those responsible; (c) the refusal to provide copies and access to the preliminary investigations, and (d) the omission to implement the urgent measures and actions issued regarding this case by the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearance.
The District Court that heard the case denied the binding nature of the measures and urgent actions of the aforementioned Committee and dismissed the protection against the authorities indicated as responsible, who denied the acts attributed to them, with the exception of the Assistant Prosecutor of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office of the Central Zone of Veracruz, in charge of the 1st and 8th Agencies of the Investigating Public Ministry, against whom federal protection was granted so that he would provide the requested copies of the investigation. In addition, to order the necessary diligences in order to clarify the facts and identify those responsible, to adjust his actions to the standards of the investigation and to conclude it effectively until the victim’s whereabouts were found.
Dissatisfied with the decision, the mother filed an appeal for review.
Ruling on appeal, the First Chamber revoked the dismissal decreed in relation to the acts claimed against the Attorney General of the State of Veracruz, the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for the Attention of Complaints of Disappeared Persons, Veracruz Central Zone and the Head of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for the Attention of Complaints of Disappeared Persons.
Likewise, it confirmed the protection granted, extending its effects to bind the mentioned authorities to comply with the investigation, clarification of the facts and location of the missing person, as well as to allow and encourage the participation of the affected mother in the search and location of her son. The above, considering that the right to search and its results integrate the essential nucleus of the right not to suffer forced disappearance and provide content and substance to the duties to prevent, investigate and repair human rights violations and their correlative rights to truth, justice and reparation.
Likewise, the First Chamber decided to grant the protection to order the responsible authorities to comply, in their terms, with the urgent measures and actions issued by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances. This, since said Committee is the body authorized to interpret the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, with the purpose of requesting a State party -such as ours- to take the necessary measures for the timely finding of a disappeared person in order to guarantee his right to be searched for. Thus, the Chamber concluded that denying the binding nature of the decisions of the aforementioned Committee would imply depriving the International Convention of any useful effect.
Protection in review 1077/2019.
Speaker: Minister Alfredo Gutiérrez Ortiz Mena.
Resolved in session of June 16, 2021, by unanimous vote.
Outreach document. The judgment is the only official version.
Categories: Unjust / Wrongful Convictions