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Monday, June 1, 2015

Mexico Enacts Constitutional Reforms to Fight Corruption

Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico

Mexico is currently experiencing one of the most important processes of institutional transformation in its modern history. For the first time in decades, the main political forces have thoroughly reviewed and reorganized our political, economic and social systems on the basis of 11 major reforms. We have adapted the structure of the state to turn Mexico into the country we all want. Achieving this will undoubtedly depend on everyone, society and the authorities—the three branches and different levels of government—acting with professionalism, integrity and honesty.

In 2014, Transparency International’s Index of Perception of Corruption ranked us 103rd out of 175 countries. While it is true that corruption is perceived in every country in the world, it is unacceptable for Mexico to have such a low assessment.

As a result, I will enact the constitutional reform to fight corruption [on May 27]. This is a vital change, resulting from an unprecedented exercise of discussion and the construction of agreements in which all of the political forces, and above all civil society, participated, enhancing the initiative with its ideas and proposals.

Mexico will now have a National Anti-Corruption System. This agency will coordinate authorities tasked with preventing, investigating and punishing possible acts of corruption, as well as those responsible for overseeing public resources. The system includes a Public Participation Committee made up of five distinguished Mexicans, who, together with the authorities, will ensure society’s interests.

The Superior Audit of the Federation (ASF) will be established as the highest organ of control and, therefore, the cornerstone of this new scheme. Its new responsibilities will allow real-time auditing when possible crimes are being committed. Now, it will also be able to monitor the performance of federal contributions and the trusts that use public resources.

This amendment means that the Public Account will be able to be overseen from the first day of the year onwards rather than in April, as has been the case so far. Moreover, with full commitment to legality, the statute of limitations for administrative gross negligence will be extended to seven years, meaning that administrative justice will be able to be applied beyond a single presidential term.

Another new provision of this transformative reform–number 12–is that future Secretaries of Public Administration must be ratified by the Senate. The aim is to create schemes of joint responsibility between the branches of government and ensure impartiality in the performance of their duties.

However, for me, the most significant change in this new paradigm is that, for the first time, our Constitution recognizes that both citizens and public servants share the responsibility of combating corruption. In fact, officials, private individuals and companies who have participated in such acts will be able to be punished. Government officials from all spheres of government may be sanctioned with prison sentences while firms may be dissolved. These types of decisions will be made by independent courts, such as the Federal Court of Administrative Justice, which includes the new legal framework, or its equivalent in the states.

Through this reform, Mexico is advancing its own transformation by promoting integrity in public life. No legal project can or should be considered a finished product. From now on, it will be necessary to create new consensuses to shape the institutions and secondary legislation comprising the new National Anti-Corruption System.

Once enacted, the proper implementation of the constitutional reform to combat corruption will involve us all; citizens and entrepreneurs; and the authorities at the three levels of government.

Building a nation of stronger institutions, more honest authorities, and more participatory authorities is a shared responsibility. Mexico belongs to us all; let us embrace this challenge with courage and determination.

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Press release by the Presidency's Editorial Staff, Presidency of the Republic, May 27, 2015, Mexico, DF; translation by Presidency of the Republic

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