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1 October 2004


Mexico: Possible recourse for victims of bribery demands/corruption by government officials federally, in the Federal District, and in the states of Guanajuato, Jalisco, Mexico, Michoacan, Puebla, Queretaro, Veracruz and Yucatan, including agencies to which such corruption can be reported and protection available (2003-September 2004)
Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa

International governmental and non-governmental sources have reported on anti-corruption measures that have sought to increase accountability and transparency in Mexico (US 16 Sept. 2003; CPI Dec. 2003a; TI 27 Nov. 2002, 95). In April 2003, a new law of professional civil service for federal public administration was approved by Congress, which would, among other things, widen "the statute of limitations for punishing acts of corruption" (ibid.). In June 2003, a new federal transparency law on access to information came into effect allowing citizens to obtain previously unavailable information from government authorities such as the congress (CPI Dec. 2003a; US 16 Sept. 2003). As well, the government created several e-government Internet sites such as Compranet and Tramitanet that were designed to, among other things, "eliminate paperwork and reduce chances for corruption" (CPI Dec. 2003a; US 16 Sept. 2003).

Nevertheless, governmental and non-governmental sources have also reported contrasting opinions on the government's efforts to combat corruption (ibid.; CPI Dec. 2003a). According to a STAT-USA September 2003 Market Research Report on Mexico, "[t]he government has enacted strict laws attacking corruption and bribery, with average penalties of five to ten years in prison" (US 16 Sept. 2003). The same source also noted that while enforcement of corruption-related acts was a challenge, officials have been sentenced and punished with imprisonment and fines (ibid.).

However, the Washington, DC-based Center for Public Integrity's (CPI) "Corruption Notebook" for Mexico counters these claims, stating that

[i]n Mexico, politicians or public servants can steal, bribe, or conspire to commit extensive frauds against the government and not spend a minute in jail. These crimes are not considered serious, regardless of the amount of public money stolen. If indicted, government officials enjoy freedom until they are sentenced, a process that can take years in the Mexican judicial system (Dec. 2003a).

The CPI further noted that while the Fox administration has issued over 13,000 sanctions against public servants, resulting in 1,297 dismissals, 278 indictments, and 53 convictions, information about civil servants actually being sent to prison has yet to be provided by the Mexican government between December 2000 and 2003 (CPI Dec. 2003a). According to its Website, the CPI is a "nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts investigative research and reporting on public policy issues in the United States and around the world" (n.d.).

Nonetheless, Transparencia Mexicana (TM), the Mexican chapter of Transparency International, reported that the country's national corruption index had decreased from 10.5 in 2001 to 8.5 in 2003 (TM 2003). The TM noted that their 2003 survey had registered about 101 million acts of corruption from October 2002 to October 2003, a reduction of more than half of the 214 million corruption acts reported in 2001 (ibid.). Still, TM maintained that corruption was still a serious problem in the country, stating that public servants reportedly took a bribe (mordida) in 9 out of every 100 government transactions made in 2003 (ibid.). TM also reported that bribes to officials siphon about 1 per cent or US$2.3 billion dollars from the country's economy and cost low-income families 14 per cent of their earnings (Freedom House 23 Aug. 2004).

Federal-level recourse available to victims of corruption

At the federal level, in addition to the National Human Rights Commission (Comision Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH) described in MEX38552.E of 3 May 2002 and the Research Directorate's May 2004 Issue Paper Mexico: Police, the Secretariat of Public Administration (Secretaria del Funcion Publico, SFP), which replaced the Administrative Development and Auditing Secretariat (Secretaria de Contraloria y Desarrollo Administrativo, SECODAM) in 2003 (CPI Dec. 2003a; US 16 Sept. 2003), offers various services to citizens wishing to report acts of corruption such as bribery (ibid.; Manual Ciudadano n.d). Via the SFP's General Directorate for Citizen Assistance (Direccion General de Atencion Ciudadana, DGAC) (Manuel Ciudadano n.d.; CPI Dec. 2003b), a citizen may lodge a complaint in the following ways:

  • In person at an SFP office (the main SFP office is located in Mexico City at Insurgentes Sur, 1735, Col. Guadalupe Inn, Delegacion Alvaro Obregon and its telephone number is: 55-3003-3000) (Mexico n.d.a) or other federal entities such as the Federal Attorney General's Office (Procuraduria General de la Republica, PGR) (Manual Ciudadano n.d.);
  • By telephone using the Telephone Assistance System for Citizens (Sistema de Atencion Telefonica para la Ciudadania, SACTEL), as well as the telephone attention systems offered by other internal control offices (ibid.; Mexico n.d.b). The SACTEL is a 24-hour hotline service operating 365 days a year that records complaints made by citizens against public services and servants (ibid.; CPI Dec. 2003b). In addition, the SACTEL takes note of suggestions (sugerencias), requests (solicitudes) and acknowledgments (reconocimientos) from callers offering ideas to modify or improve the public service (ibid.). Each complaint received by SACTEL is then sent to the corresponding local comptroller office from the department where the complaint was based for an investigation (CPI Dec. 2003b). According to the Center for Public Integrity, an investigation into a public sector corruption case normally begins 45 days after the receipt of the complaint (ibid.). Nevertheless, the SFP Website noted that the SACTEL is able to provide updates to complainants regarding the status of their file (Mexico n.d.b). The telephone numbers for SACTEL are: 3003-2000 for persons living in the Federal District and metropolitan areas, 1-800-112-0584 for persons calling from anywhere in Mexico, and 1-888-475-2393 for persons calling from Canada and the United States (Mexico n.d.c).
  • Electronically via email at <> or by fax [not listed] (Manuel Ciudadano n.d.);
  • By mail to the following address: Av. Insurgentes Sur, No. 1735, Col. Guadalupe Inn, Del. Alvaro Obregón, C.P. 01020, Mexico, DF (ibid.); and
  • By mailboxes (buzones) permanently installed at various federal public administration offices and entities (ibid.).

Government authorities in Mexico have lauded the progress being made by federal-level anti-corruption programs (Mexico 31 Mar. 2003; Vanguardia 15 June 2004). For example, DGAC Director, Eloy Morales Fong, noted that in the past three years the SFP completed some 10,000 verifications (verificaciones) related to complaints made by public servants in more than 220 federal government agencies (ibid.). Morales Fong added that in the last three years, the SFP had also conducted 80 successful operations into corruption-related complaints (ibid.). These operations reportedly resulted in the apprehension of about 150 public servants, 50 of whom received administrative sanctions (sanciones administrativas), and 30 were within the penal process (proceso penal) (ibid.).

However, the CPI noted that, in some instances, corruption cases within the civil service continue to occur with impunity "due to lack of evidence and an ineffective judicial system" (Dec. 2003b). For more information about Mexico's judicial system, please consult Amnesty International's 25 March 2003 report Unfair Trials, Unsafe Convictions at <>, as well as section 1 of the United States Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003.

Federal District

Within the Federal District, a citizen may denounce a public official via the Program Against Impunity (Programa Contra la Impunidad) of the Federal District Human Rights Commission (Comision de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal, CDHDF) (8 May 2004). According to CDHDF statistics for 2003, the Programa Contra la Impunidad reported that it was monitoring 1,660 administrative and/or criminal proceedings filed against Federal District public servants (8 May 2004). Subsequently, the CDHDF noted that of the total number of proceedings concluded in 2003, 190 public servants were sanctioned, including 155 members of the Federal District Attorney General of Justice (Procuraduria General de Justicia del Distrito Federal, PGJDF), 32 workers of the Secretariat of Public Security (Secretaria de Seguridad Publica, SSP), and 3 Federal District Government (Gobierno del Distrito Federal, GDF) officials (CDHDF 8 May 2004).

In addition to filling out an online complaint (queja) form found on the CDHDF Website, one may record a complaint in person at the main office located on Av. Chapultepec No. 49, Col. Centro, Delegación Cuauhtémoc, by telephone at 55-5229 5600, or by email: <> (CDHDF n.d.).

Another option for citizens to lodge a complaint against a Federal District public servant is through the General Comptroller's (Contraloria General) Citizen Assistance Directorate (Direccion de Atencion Ciudadana) (Federal District n.d.a). According to statistics gathered from 5 December 2000 to 31 May 2004, the Citizen Assistance Directorate processed and concluded 14,834 cases out of 15,165 complaints received (ibid. 5 Dec. 2000-31 May 2004).

The main office of the General Comptroller is located at Av. Juárez # 92, 3er. piso, Col. Centro and its telephone number is: 56-27-97-00 ext. 2027, 2028 and 2047 (ibid. n.d.b). There are a number of branch offices located in the various districts (delegaciones) in the Federal District (ibid. n.d.c).

Guanajuato State

The Guanajuato State Human Rights Attorney (Procuraduria de los Derechos Humanos del Estado de Guanajuato, PDHEG) provides free services for citizens who want to file complaints against public servants for any type of human rights-related violation (3 Feb. 2003). In the PDHEG's April 2003-March 2004 annual report, a total of 1,119 complaints were filed against various public servants, including 334 against municipal public security officers (16 Aug. 2004).

The PDHEG is located in the city of Leon on Boulevard Mariano Escobedo No. 2601 Ote., Colonia León Moderno and the organization offers a toll-free hotline to register complaints at 01-800-47-044-00 (PDHEG 30 July 2004).

Jalisco State

In addition to watching over (vigila) the conduct of municipal and state-level government authorities and public servants, the Jalisco State Commission for Human Rights (Comision Estatal de Derechos Humanos Jalisco, CEDHJ) is mandated to defend the rights of anyone who has had their human rights violated (CEDHJ n.d.a). In order to file a complaint, among other things, one must provide a clear, brief, detailed description of the incident that includes the name and title of the authority or public servant (ibid. n.d.b.). If the name cannot be provided, any information that would help to obtain the identity of the public servant accused of violating the complainant's rights should be included (ibid.). According to its 2003 Annual Report, based on statistics taken from January to December 2003, the CEDHJ received 2899 complaints.

The CEDHJ's head office is located in Guadalajara at: Pedro Moreno 1616, Colonia American, CP 44160 and complaints can be recorded by Internet, email <> , fax (01 33) 3669 11 01, or telephone (01 33) 3669 11 00 and toll-free line at 01 800 2018 991 (n.d.c). The CEDHJ also has five regional offices in Autlan de Navarro, Tel: (01 317) 382 02 31, Ciudad Guzman, Tel: (01 341) 413 43 96, Colotlan, Tel: (01 499) 992 09 13, Lagos de Moreno, Tel: (01 474) 742 37 00, and Puerto Vallarta, Tel: (322) 22 111 39 (ibid.).

Mexico State

The Mexico State Human Rights Commission (Comision de Derechos Humanos del Estado de Mexico, CODHEM) is the office that investigates human rights violations in the state of Mexico (n.d.a). Complaints can be registered orally by telephone or in person, or in writing by mail, fax, or Internet (CODHEM n.d.b).

COHEM's Website lists its head office at Instituto Literario No. 510, Col. Centro, Toluca, Mexico, CP 50000, and its telephone number is (01 722) 213 08 28 or 213 08 83, its fax is (01 722) 214 08 70 and its email is <> (ibid. n.d.c). In addition, CODHEM has five inspectors general (visitaduria generales) in the following locations: Naucalpan de Juarez Tel: (0155) 53 57 0848 and 53 57 08 73, Nezahualcoyotl, Tel: (0155) 57 97 45 07 and 57 97 43 53, Ecatepec de Morelos, Tel: (0155) 11 15 59 48 and 11 15 58 54, Tejupilco, Tel (01 724) 26 701 46 and 26 701 35, and San Felipe del Progreso, Tel (01 712) 123 5193 and 123 5200 (ibid.).

Michoacan State

According to the government of Michoacan's Website, the State Commission for Human Rights (Comision Estatal de Derechos Humanos) provides similar services to the institutions mentioned previously, namely to provide citizens an avenue to file a human rights complaint against, for example, a public servant or government authority (Mexico n.d.d.). The head office is located in the city of Morelia at Calle 15 de Octubre, No. 74, Col. Lomas de Hidalgo, CP 58240, and their telephone number is 315 7535 (ibid.). In addition, an April 2004 article in the Morelia-based newspaper Cambio de Michoacan mentioned that there were regional inspector (visitaduria) offices of the CEDH in Uruapan, Lazaro Cardenas, Apatzingan, Zamora, and Zitacuaro (23 Apr. 2004).

Puebla State

The Puebla's State Commission for Human Rights (Comision de Derechos Humanos del Estado de Puebla, CDHE Puebla) offers services to citizens wishing to file a human rights complaint against a public servant (CDHE Puebla n.d). Located in the city of Puebla at Av. 15 de Mayo, No. 2929 "A", Col. Las Hadas, CP 72060, the CDHE Puebla can be contacted by telephone at 485 319 and 485 022, by fax at 485 451, its toll-free telephone numbers 01 800 20 10 105 and 01 800 20 10 106, and by email at <> (ibid.).

Puebla's state government Website also provides an Internet complaint form for citizens who wish to denounce public servants for violations related to the Organic Law of Public Administration for the state of Puebla (Mexico n.d.e). Although complaints must be made in writing, a complainant may call the following telephone numbers for information and orientation: 01 800 7122876 (toll-free) and within Puebla city at: 2 36 69 48 (ibid.).

Queretaro State

The Queretaro state human rights commission (Comision Estatal de Derechos Humanos Queretaro, CEDH Queretaro) provides, among other responsibilities, services to citizens wishing to denounce municipal or state-level authorities who have acted illegally or arbitrarily (n.d.a). The CEDH Queretaro is located in the city of Queretaro at Colon No. 14, Col. Centro, C.P. 76000 and can be contacted by telephone and fax at 14-08-37 or 12-00-42 or 12-15-89, a toll-free number at 01-800-40-068-00, and by email at: <> (CEDH n.d.b).

Veracruz State

The Veracruz state commission of human rights (Comision Estatal de Derechos Humanos Veracruz, CEDH Veracruz) Website provides information on how to file a complaint as well as various human rights-related reports and activities undertaken by this institution (n.d.). According to its 2003 Annual Report, the CEDH Veracruz concluded 1,813 of the 2,438 applications for intervention (solicitudes de intervencion) received by the institution.

Located in Xalapa de Enriquez, the address of CEDH Veracruz is Carrillo Puerto No. 21, Col. Centro, CP 91000 and their telephone number is: 52 2288 120796 or 52 2288 120589 (n.d.). The CEDH Veracruz can also be contacted via its toll-free number 01 800 260 2200 or email: <> (ibid.).

Yucatan State

The Office of Complaints, Orientation and Follow-up (Oficialia de Quejas, Orientacion y Seguimiento) of the State Commission for Human Rights of the state of Yucatan (Comision de Derechos Humanos del Estado de Yucatan, CODHEY) initiates investigations into complaints filed with this institution (n.d.b.). CODHEY's 2003 annual report noted that the organization was able to conclude 579 of the 1,246 complaints filed with them from January to December 2003.

The CODHEY is located in Merida at Calle 20 No. 391 "A" x 31-D y 31-F, Col. Nueva Aleman, CP 97146, and can be contacted by telephone at (01999) 927-85-96, or 927-92-75, or 927-22-01, or email at <> (CODHEY n.d.a.).

Effectiveness of Human Rights Commissions

According to Amnesty International's 2004 annual report, the country's judiciary and system of human rights commissions were weak and generally incapable of providing "effective oversight to prevent and punish abuses" (AI 2004). In a February 2004 article, the Mexico City-based national human right organization, Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez (PRODH), also noted that the continuing lack of autonomy of the country's human rights commissions hinder their effectiveness (PRODH 16 Feb. 2004). This point, PRODH stated, was previously mentioned in the diagnostic on human rights produced by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights and presented to President Fox in December 2003 (ibid.; ibid. May 2004). According to PRODH, this diagnostic is planned to serve as the central component of a National Human Rights Program (NHRP) in Mexico (May 2004). As of April 2004, the federal government stated that the NHRP would be implemented in two phases: a federal process that would reportedly be completed by November 2004, and a local-level process of which no time-line was reported (PRODH May 2004). No further information about this plan could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

For a detailed analysis about the effectiveness of the national and state-level human rights commissions in Mexico, please consult Amnesty International's 25 March 2003 report Unfair Trials, Unsafe Convictions mentioned earlier in this Response.

In addition, background information on possible recourse for victims of bribery demands/corruption can be found in MEX37007.E of 9 July 2001 about the SECODAM, MEX38552.E of 3 May 2002 on possible recourse of bribery attempts by government officials in the State of Hidalgo, MEX38312.E of 19 September 2002 on legislative initiatives undertaken by the Fox administration to fight corruption, and MEX39540.E of 20 September 2002 about corruption within the Attorney General's office of the Federal District.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Amnesty International. 2004. Amnesty International Report 2004. "Mexico." <> [Accessed 9 Sept. 2004]

Cambio de Michoacan [Morelia]. 23 April 2004. Felix Rivera Millan. "Inauguran Visitaduria Regional de la Comision Estatal de Derechos Humanos." <> [Accessed 27 Apr. 2004]

Center for Public Integrity (CPI). December 2003a. Leonarda Reyes. "Mexico: Corruption Notebook." <> [Accessed 4 June 2004]

____. December 2003b. Arturo del Castillo. "Mexico: Integrity Assessment: Civil Society, Public Information and Media." <> [Accessed 4 June 2004]

____. n.d. "Frequently Asked Questions." <> [Accessed 17 Sept. 2003]

Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez (PRODH). May 2004. Issue 18. FOCUS: Human Rights in Mexico. < mayo04ok_01_web.pdf> [Accessed 24 Spet. 2004]

____. 16 February 2004. "Setbacks in the Public Human Rights Commissions." <> [Accessed 24 Sept. 2004]

Comision de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal (CDHDF). 8 May 2004. Boletin de Prensa No. 44/2004. "Por intervencion de la CDHDF, 190 servidores publicos capitalinos fueron sancionados durante 2003." <> [Accessed 23 June 2004]

____. n.d. "Presentacion de queja por internet." <> [Accessed 17 Sept. 2004]

Comision de Derechos Humanos del Estado de Mexico (CODHEM). n.d.a. "Que es y hace." <> [Accessed 24 June 2004]

____. n.d.b. "Formato de queja." <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

____. n.d.c. "Directorios." <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

Comision de Derechos Humanos del Estado de Puebla (CDHE Puebla). n.d. "Servicios de la CEDH." <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

Comision de Derechos Humanos del Estado de Yucatan (CODHEY). 2003. Informe Anual de Quejas 2003. <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

____. n.d.a. "CODHEY." <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

____. n.d.b. "Funciones de la Oficialia de Quejas, Orientacion y Seguimiento." <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

Comision Estatal de Derechos Humanos Jalisco (CEDHJ). 2003. "Quejas recibidas en enero a diciembre de 2003." <> [Accessed 21 Sept. 2004]

____. n.d.a. "Funciones." <> [Accessed 24 June 2004]

____. n.d.b. "¿Como se presenta una queja?" <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

____. n.d.c. "Directorio." <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

Comision Estatal de Derechos Humanos Queretaro (CEDH Queretaro). n.d.a. "Funciones de las areas." <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

____. n.d.b. "Ubicacion de la CEDH." <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

Comision Estatal de Derechos Humanos Veracruz (CEDH Veracruz). 2003. Informe de actividades 2003. "Direccion de orientacion y quejas." <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

____. n.d. "Derechos Humanos Veracruz." <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

Federal District. 5 December 2000-31 May 2004. Contraloria General, Direccion de Atencion Ciudadana. "Consulta General." <> [Accessed 23 June 2004>

____. n.d.a. Contraloria General, Direccion de Atencion Ciudadana. "Seguimiento de denuncias formales en contra de funcionarios publicos." <> [Accessed 23 June 2004]

____. n.d.b. Oficina de la Contralora General. "Directorio." <> [Accessed 8 July 2004]

____. n.d.c. Contralorias Internas. "Directorio." <> [Accessed 8 July 2004]

Freedom House. 23 August 2004. Freedom in the World 2004. "Mexico." < ratings/mexico.htm> [Accessed 24 Sept. 2004]

Manual Ciudadano. N.d. "Contraloria social, transparencia y combate a la corrupcion en los programas sociales: Secretaria de la Funcion Publica (SFP)." <> [Accessed 7 June 2004]

Mexico. 31 March 2003. Secretario de Contraloria y Desarrollo Administrativo (SECODAM). "Informe de labores que presenta el C.P. Francisco Barrio Terrazas, Secretario de Contraloria y Desarrollo Administrativo." <> [Accessed 1 Sept. 2004]

____. n.d.a. Secretario de Contraloria y Desarrollo Administrativo (SECODAM). "Contacto." <> [Accessed 8 July 2004]

____. n.d.b. Secretaria de la Funcion Publica (SFP). "Servicio en materia de atencion ciudadana." <> [Accessed 22 June 2004]

____. n.d.c. Tramitanet. "Quejas, denuncias y peticiones ciudadanas." <> [Accessed 7 June 2004]

____. n.d.d. Gobierno del Estado de Michoacan. "Dependencias." <> [Accessed 27 Apr. 2004]

____. n.d.e. Gobierno del Estado de Puebla. "Denuncias a servidores publicos." <> [Accessed 27 Apr. 2004]

Procuraduria de los Derechos Humanos del Estado de Guanajuato (PDHEG). 16 August 2004. Informe Annual: Abril 2003-Marzo 2004. "Servidores publicos contra quienes se presento queja." <> [Accessed 24 June 2004]

____. 30 July 2004. "Procuraduria de los Derechos Humanos del Estado de Guanajuato." <> [Accessed 17 Sept. 2004]

____. 3 February 2003. "Historia." <> [Accessed 24 June 2004]

Transparency International (TI). 27 November 2002. Pablo Rodas-Martini. Global Corruption Report 2003. "Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean." < Central_America_(Rodas-Martini).pdf> [Accessed 21 Sept. 2004]

Transparencia Mexicana (TM). 2003. "Encuesta nacional de corrupcion y buen gobierno 2003." <> [Accessed 7 June 2004]

United States. 16 September 2003. US Department of Commerce. STAT-USA/Internet. Mexico Country Commercial Guide FY 2004. "Chapter 8: Investment Climate." <> [Accessed 21 Sept. 2004]

Vanguardia [Saltillo, Coahuila]. 15 June 2004. Notimex. "Mejora atencion a la ciudadania con apoyo del 'usario simulado': SFP." <'usuario-simulado':-SFP/> [Accessed 24 June 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet: Human Rights Watch, IRB databases, World News Connection/Dialog.