President Enrique Peña Nieto sent a proposal to the Senate for a constitutional amendment that would prevent the attorney general from automatically becoming federal prosecutor.
If the proposal is approved, the attorney general will no longer receive an automatic pass to lead the Federal Prosecutor’s Office. The Senate will need to approve the attorney general as general prosecutor.
Peña Nieto said that he sent the proposal as a response to various voices who argue that Article 16 of the constitutional reform, published on Feb. 10, 2014, which establishes the automatic transit from attorney general to federal prosecutor, isn’t focused on the discussion of the institutional model of the federal prosecutor’s office.
He said that the constitutional reform foresaw that the general prosecutor will take office once the law is approved by Congress, while Article 16 says that whoever is attorney general at that moment will become general prosecutor.
In this sense, he explained that for the federal government, the transition to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office should take place on Congress’ timetable.
He noted that the constitutional reform was approved with 106 votes in favor, 15 against and one abstention in the Senate, and 409 votes in favor, 69 against and three abstentions in the Chamber of Deputies, where it was also modified.
Later, the modified proposal was approved by the Senate with 99 votes in favor, 11 against and two abstentions, and was approved by the majority of state congresses.
The reform was a product of various initiatives presented in the Senate, not from the executive, Peña Nieto said.
On Oct. 25, Peña Nieto appointed Raúl Cervantes Andrade as Attorney General and the Senate confirmed him with 85 votes in favor, three against and one abstention.
One of Cervantes’ principal tasks is to work to improve the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which faces challenges associated with the new criminal justice system.