Mexican supreme court candidate's record clouded by torture accusations

时间:2019-11-16 责任编辑:宋渐 来源:银河娱乐网投官网 点击:221 次

A former state attorney general whose office is accused of torturing witnesses during a botched investigation into an alleged army massacre was questioned by the Mexican Senate this week.

But Alejandro Jaime Gómez Sánchez was not being grilled over his office’s investigation into the Tlatlaya massacre, in which .

He was defending his credentials as a candidate for the supreme court.

Gómez’s nomination is causing disquiet among lawyers and human rights activists as president Enrique Peña Nieto moves to appoint a close collaborator to fill one of the two vacant spaces on the country’s supreme court.

Mario Patrón, director of the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center, said the state of Mexico’s attorney general’s office – which Gómez oversaw – was responsible for serious abuses, including manipulating the crime scene and torturing three witnesses.

“[Gómez’s nomination] is an indication of how much the president puts human rights on the agenda and the relevance of that agenda,” said Patrón added.

In recent months Mexico’s supreme court has made a series of progressive rulings on contentious issues, finding in favour of , abortion rights and .

But the retirement this week of two left-leaning veteran judges has left a cloud of uncertainty over the court’s future direction.

Gómez – a native of Peña Nieto’s home state and previously deputy council in his presidential administration – is one of the six candidates the Senate will choose from in replacing the outgoing justices.

His nomination has drawn fresh attention to the June 2014 massacre at Tlatlaya in the state of , one of a series of incidents in which federal forces are accused of committing extrajudicial abuses.

An investigation by the Associated Press and Esquire Mexico found that soldiers shot and killed 22 civilians in a way that contradicted the army’s description of a gun battle.

The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) later determined at least 12 of the deaths were extrajudicial killings. It also documented that three female survivors of the attack were tortured by state attorney general’s office employees until they signed statements supporting the army’s account.

Shortly after the incident, Gómez said investigators found no signs of a massacre, and he has been defending his unit’s handling of the case.

Addressing the Senate on Wednesday, Gómez also attempted to justify his record in the state of Mexico, a sprawling conurbation wrapped round the national capital which has also been the setting for the in recent years.

“I consider myself free of conflicts of interests,” Gómez said. “I have a clean track record and a quiet conscience, along with the necessary capabilities to be an independent constitutional judge, who is impartial, modern and responsible.”

Seven low-ranking soldiers were charged with crimes occurring at Tlatlaya, but a judge found insufficient evidence to proceed against four them.

Patrón, whose organization uncovered army , said state officials were also responsible for human rights abuses.

“Since the recommendations of the CNDH, there is no doubt the Mexico state government violated human rights to cover up for the army – but also hide its own acts,” Patrón said.

Gómez’s nomination has prompted fresh questions about the president’s appointment close collaborators to key positions despite questionable records.

Previous presidents have steered clear of , said Federico Estévez, political science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico. “Peña Nieto is the first one to openly push his own people onto the court.”

In November, Peña Nieto sent two slates of three candidates (one list of women, and one list of men) to replace the outgoing justices. Only one of the nine remaining justices is a woman.

In recent years the court has upheld Mexico City laws on abortion and same-sex marriage, and its first bench – seen as more liberal, than the conservative second bench – granted an injunction this fall to four individuals seeking to use marijuana for recreational reasons.

Senators spent more than six hours peppering Gómez with questions – unprecedented for Mexico in the vetting of supreme court judges. But many were left unsatisfied by the performance of Gómez and his fellow nominees.

“[They’re] very low-profile,” senator Miguel Barbosa, leader of the left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party, told the newspaper El Universal. “Mexico’s institutional life isn’t doing so well.”