“My daughter’s body spoke”, says in an interview María Antonia Márquez, mother of Nadia Alejandra Muciño Márquez, murdered on February 12, 2004 by her partner and her brother-in-law. The crime was classified by the authorities of the State of Mexico as intentional homicide because it happened before there was the classification of feminicide in the entity.
Despite the evidence of violence against Nadia, her mother believes that corruption and the lack of a gender perspective in the criminal process were decisive in revoking the first sentence, in 2009, and releasing one of the two aggressors. On the other hand, in 2017, due to pressure from the mother and the accompaniment of national and international institutions, the authorities followed protocols that guaranteed the gender perspective in the investigation and the trial culminated in the conviction for intentional homicide for the second of the aggressors (your partner).
María Antonia has fought against impunity for more than 13 years in two criminal proceedings. He managed to get the United Nations (UN) and the National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence Against Women (Conavim) to issue expert opinions in 2017 that did focus on the injuries to Nadia’s body because the Attorney General’s Office did not take them consider.
“It changed a lot, for example, the availability of the authorities to adhere to what is the gender perspective and to the photographs, to make a thorough, real analysis. We were no longer so alone,” says María Antonia about the second trial.
María Antonia approached Conavim on her own account, where she was assigned as a lawyer the current head of the Search Commission for Persons of the State of Mexico, María Sol Salgado Ambros. She was the one who asked that the forensic anthropology and psychology reports be carried out in the expert opinion.
Later, María Antonia received help from María de la Luz Estrada, coordinator of the National Citizen Observatory of Femicide (OCNF), who presented it to the UN and they prepared the opinion on criminology. In principle, María Antonia was looking for a recommendation from this institution, but what they were able to do was the opinion, which, she says, was also very useful to her.
“What we had to do was dismiss the expert opinions of the Attorney General’s Office because of how rigged they were,” explains María Antonia.
Omissions that impede access to justice
In the State of Mexico, the number of files initiated for the crime of femicide has increased year after year: from 64 in 2017 to 106 in 2018; In 2019 they were 123 and by 2020 there were already 150. While in 2021 there have been 77 alleged crimes of femicide from January to July.
However, not all open investigation files have convictions for femicide. Figures of sentences in general issued by the Judicial Power of the State of Mexico place the entity in 13th place nationwide, according to the 2020 National Census of Impartition of Justice of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).
According to this census, the State of Mexico was also the entity with the most complaints derived from non-compliance with the obligations of public servants of the State Judicial Power: 1,576 in 2019. It is followed by Mexico City with 1,224; Oaxaca with 756; Veracruz with 377 and Morelos with 301.
“In the State of Mexico, we have not had much success in the issue of advances in access to justice for women, at least not in the cases that we accompany. Yes, there is a significant lag in the Prosecutor’s Office in the procurement of justice” , considers Ana Yeli Pérez Garrido, lawyer and member of the OCNF.
As inquiries mount, sentences for femicide decreased for the first time in four years. From 2017 to 2020, 149 convictions were handed down for this crime: first there were 25; increased to 35 in 2018; The following year there were 49 but in 2020 the number fell to 38, according to reports from the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Mexico.
“In cases of gender crimes, we observe that there are constant re-victimization processes, lack of gender perspective that impact and compromise access to justice. In addition, they generate new damages to the victims, there is a treatment of institutional violence beyond of the omissions “, comments Pérez Garrido.
María Antonia maintains that, in her case, the lack of access to justice was compromised from the moment the ministerial authorities collected her daughter’s body from the home located in the municipality of Cuautitlán Izcalli. It points out the lack of chain of custody in the evidence, which was later lost in the facilities of the State Attorney’s Office, and the negligence of the expert who overlooked the collection of one of the ropes around the victim’s neck and the blood stains in the bathroom.
Nadia was 24 years old and had three children aged 5, 4 and 2 who were present when she was murdered. The expert witness ruled suicide despite the testimony of two of the sons who narrated the crime. Two of the common forms of diversion of police and expert investigations of violent deaths of women are the presumption of suicide and reckless or accidental homicide, according to the 2020 report La Violencia Feminicida en México, Approaches and Trends prepared by UN Women.
The Protocol of action in the investigation of the crime of femicide of the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Mexico, which details criteria for the proceedings with a gender perspective and equity, was published on April 22, 2016. However, Prior to this and the classification of feminicide in the entity, there were already international frameworks that stipulate as a duty of the States the due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish violence against women, as is the case of the “Convention of Belem Do For “signed in 1995.
“They did not act with a gender perspective because at that time there was no gender perspective, but they had to adhere to the investigation protocols. And they did not,” says María Antonia.
That is what the report The progress of women in the world 2011-2012: in search of justice, in which UN Women points out that women’s access to justice implies that governments comply with the obligations of “due diligence “and not only the creation, but the implementation of laws through a chain of justice that is gender sensitive and guarantees their rights.
For her part, Fabiola Alanis Sámano, head of Conavim, considers that the 2009 judgment of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) known as “Cotton Field” laid the foundations for the Mexican State to include the gender perspective in the teaching of justice and criminalize the violent deaths of women.
“It seems to me that it no longer has to do with an issue of training or knowledge of what the gender perspective is. Judges know what we are talking about when we talk about gender perspective. Suddenly in some entities it is will, and it is empathy, and it is to eliminate the laziness that prevents them from recognizing when it is a crime of this magnitude “, he assures in an interview.
The head of Conavim highlights that mechanisms such as the Alert on Gender Violence against Women (AVGM), declared in 11 municipalities of the State of Mexico such as Cuautitlán Izcalli, where the case of Nadia occurred, and the technical tables for the review of crimes against women and girls, so far initiated in 22 states, have generated greater sensitivity in the areas of law enforcement.
On October 8, 2009, the Third Criminal Court of First Instance of the Cuautitlán Izcalli Judicial District handed down a conviction to Nadia’s brother-in-law for qualified homicide. After the defendant’s appeal, on February 5, 2010, the magistrates of the First Collegiate Criminal Chamber of Tlalnepantla also dismissed the children’s testimonies and accepted the hypothesis of suicide. The sentence was revoked and his brother-in-law was released.
It took eight years for the second of the aggressors, the father of Nadia’s children, to be sentenced., who on October 13, 2017 was found guilty of aggravated homicide and sentenced to 42 years and 6 months in prison.
Currently, María Antonia is awaiting the date of the hearing that the IACHR will hold regarding the complaint that was filed in 2010 and was admitted in 2018 due to irregularities in the preliminary investigation and the institutional violence of the Mexican State.
“What I am looking for is a demand for the Mexican State to really train and carry out research with a gender perspective forcefully, to find some way to demand them. Well, I dream, that is my dream: that they be punished, but really a exemplary punishment for those who do not comply with these investigation protocols. That they feel obliged to do their duty, “he continues to claim.