TOJIL filed a criminal complaint before the General Prosecutor’s Office for the possible commission of corruption-related crimes committed by officials of the Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL) and the Secretariat for Agrarian, Land and Urban Development (SEDATU), discovered through the journalistic investigation commonly known as the Master Swindle. As a result, in August 2019, a Federal Judge convicted Rosario Robles for the crime of improper exercise of public service.
In August 2021, we requested the President of the Federal Judiciary Council, Justice Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea, to install a Fair Trial Observer Mission in the oral trial hearing within the criminal case 314/2019 against Rosario Robles Berlanga. The purpose of this request was to live monitor the aforementioned hearing to guarantee the principle of publicity of criminal hearings and, consequently, to ensure that the trial would be carried out respecting due process and human rights.
However, the General Directorate of Legal Affairs of the Federal Judiciary Council denied our request without adequate legal justification or motivation. The latter authority improperly based its response on various General Agreements of the Federal Judiciary Council that regulate access to video recordings of criminal hearings and personal data protection.
TOJIL filed a constitutional complaint against this ruling, in which we argued an improper justification and a violation of the principle of publicity of criminal hearings, due process, and access to justice. In May 2022, a District Judge dismissed our complaint, so we filed an appeal before a Federal Collegiate Court, which ruled favorably and ordered the District Judge to dictate a new resolution.
However, during the latter lawsuit, a Collegiate Court and the District Judge absolved Rosario Robles from the criminal investigation against her. They determined that the case should continue to be investigated only through administrative proceedings. This resolution was highly irregular and illegal since the Mexican Constitution establishes that the same conduct may be sanctioned in criminal and administrative proceedings since both have different natures and purposes. This decision was challenged by the Federal Attorney General’s Office and by the Federal Superior Audit Office.
Given this scenario, in August 2023, TOJIL requested the Federal Judiciary Council to regulate the procedure to set up an Observer Mission in cases of public and social interest that merit it, such as grand corruption cases. This type of human rights mechanism allows society and the international community of human rights defenders to act as a great social comptroller that fully guarantees due process, the publicity of criminal hearings, and the autonomy, independence, impartiality, and legitimacy of the Judge who resolves the case. Unfortunately, the authority denied our request. Consequently, TOJIL will file a constitutional complaint before a Federal Judge.