Mexico News Daily, February 24, 2020
More than nine in 10 crimes committed against women in 2019 – not including femicides – went unpunished.
Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero told a gathering of female federal deputies on Friday that of 2,327 investigations into serious intentional crimes against women that were carried out last year, only 135 – 5.8% of the total – resulted in the imposition of prison sentences on the perpetrators.
The sentencing rate for femicides – murders of women and girls on account of their gender – was higher but still fewer than one in five perpetrators went to jail. Gertz said that there were 966 investigations into femicide last year and that sentences were imposed in 183, or 19%, of the cases.
Given the low sentencing rates, the attorney general said that law enforcement officials, including police and prosecutor’s office employees, require urgent training in order to conduct more effective investigations. Those who deliberately obstruct justice or are negligent in the carrying out of their duties should face sanctions, Gertz said.
Institutional Revolutionary Party Deputy Mariana Rodríguez Mier y Terán agreed that training for state authorities aimed at improving their investigative practices is essential.
“It’s important to point out that the capacities [of authorities] are different in the different states,” she said.
The attorney general also proposed the establishment of a new legal framework in which punishments for all types of violence against women is set out in the National Criminal Code, according to the lawmakers who met with Gertz, members of a working group tasked with carrying out an analysis of femicide in Mexico.
National Action Party (PAN) Deputy Mariana García Rojas said that an agreement was reached to form a working group made up of officials from the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) and lower house lawmakers whose aim will be to draw up legislation that ensures a uniform penalty for femicide across Mexico’s 31 states and capital city. State prosecutor’s offices, governors and gender and human rights experts will also be consulted, she said.
PAN lawmaker Pilar Ortega Martínez said that establishing a nationwide uniform penalty for femicide is “essential,” while Morena party Deputy Lorena Villavicencio Ayala said that the FGR must send a clear message that it is committed to combating the crime.
“It’s a crime that demoralizes … and we’re falling short [in our response to it]. That’s why we have to standardize the penalty,” Villavicencio said.
Putting an end to errors made by law enforcement officials when filing criminal complaints and carrying out investigations – such as those made following the disappearance of a 7-year-old girl who was murdered earlier this month – is essential to stopping impunity in crimes against women, lawmakers agreed.
They also said that judges and public policy have a role to play in combatting the high levels of impunity. Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, leader of the PAN in the lower house of Congress, said that less “presidential indifference” to violence against women was crucial to combatting it.
Interior Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero admitted Friday that serious action by the government to combat violence against women had “arrived late,” but she said that it is now committed to tackling the problem head on.