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An unprecedented ruling

No public official – especially one elected by popular vote – can forget their performance is subjected to the Law
Mexican Supreme Court of Justice - File photo/NOTIMEX
08/11/2017
09:07
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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The measure taken yesterday by the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice of ordering the discharge of the head of the Venustiano Carranza borough in Mexico City is the proof of why a counterweight system is needed in a democracy. No public official – especially one elected by popular vote – can forget their performance is subjected to the Law, and they must abide by it.

In this specific case, the Supreme Court decided to also remand before a district judge of Criminal Proceedings the head of the borough in question and his predecessor, the first who failed to comply with the sentence pronounced in September 2014 in favor of four workers who had filed a lawsuit against the borough.

The ruling issued three years ago demanded the immediate appointment of the plaintiffs, the adjustment of their wages and Christmas bonuses, as well as to provide them with the necessary tools for the execution of their work – the ruling only demanded the compliance of the worker's rights. What was the basis to dismiss the ruling of the Court? Was the scope of the Law ignored? Or was it underestimated? The Mexican Constitution is clear on the consequences a public official shall face should they fail to comply the ruling of a court.

The political class immediately accused of “excessive” the measures taken by the Supreme Court, instead of understanding the rulings of that Court are not subject to appeal and that before the Supreme Court gets involved, the case has been brought, previously, before other courts. Some political parties questioned the decision by pointing out the ruling was above democracy, but there's nothing more democratic than a political system with an effective system of counterweights. These kind of remarks are closer to totalitarian behaviors than democratic ones.

Despite the ruling, we cannot say justice is being served adequately regarding civil lawsuits. Law enforcement is still a slow process only feasible to those who have the resources to afford the duration of the legal proceeding. The UN highlighted a symbolic case where a Mexican man spent 15 years in jail without ever having received a sentence; on average, four out of ten prisoners in jails haven't been sentenced.

The ruling of the Court is proof that little by little the rule of law is taking hold in our systems and that the Law exists to be complied with, not to be evaded. It's so uncommon to witness the Law being enforced that when it does happen, it raises suspicions in many sectors.

With rulings like the one issued yesterday by the Supreme Court, the door of trust is opened slightly to prove the institution is capable of autonomy and neutrality as well as to maintain its commitment to the Law and human rights. This is how democracy works.

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