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UN rights experts urge Mexico to drop automatic pre-trial detention


GENEVA (12 December 2018) ‑ The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention warns Mexico against the planned extension of automatic pre-trial detention, urging Congress to avoid expanding legal grounds that have already allowed human rights violations.

Under the current law individuals can be imprisoned if only accused of committing a crime. In clear contravention of international human rights law, the accused “does not have the right to be presumed innocent, nor the possibility of challenging the pre-trial detention order before a judge”, the Working Group said.

“The proposed reform expands the list of crimes warranting automatic pre-trial detention under Article 19 of the Constitution and this will expose even more people to arbitrary detention,” the UN experts said. “For pre-trial detention to be exceptional, it should not be automatic.” Also, they indicated that “such exceptionality requires an individual analysis, on a case by case basis, to determine if it is necessary and proportional to resort to the deprivation of someone’s liberty.”

In January 2018, the Working Group adopted an opinion in which it invited the Government to repeal the constitutional and legal norms that order automatic preventive detention, given that they are contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Working Group acknowledges the serious challenges facing Mexico in terms of security, crime and violence. However, it calls on Congress to drop automatic pre-trial detention from the country’s constitutional and legal framework.


The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights country page: Mexico 

For more information and media requests, please contact Lucie Viersma (+41 22 928 9380 / lviersma@ohchr.org) or write to wgad@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Mr. Jeremy Laurence (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.