REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION
Processing with the Commission
July 11, 1991, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received a
petition filed against the State of Mexico by Mr. Luis Sánchez Aguilar,
Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), on the grounds that the
election authorities of Mexico had unfairly denied him conditional
registration for his political party to take part in the 1991 elections,
even though he had satisfied the legal requirements to obtain that
registration; the State arbitrarily denied the appeal he filed against the
decision that denied him the conditional registration, thereby denying him
his right of association and his political rights.
As for the first aspect, he explained at length why, in his
judgment, the PSD fulfilled each of the requirements that the election law
stipulates for a party to be registered.
Commission began to process this case and sent the Mexican Government the
pertinent parts of the petition on October 17, 1991.
January 17, 1992, a reply was received from the Government, which was
forwarded to the petitioner on February 28, 1992.
Briefly, this reply alleges that the petition is inadmissible
because the remedies under domestic law have not been exhausted.
It basically uses two arguments:
that the appeal was filed extemporaneously and the eventual
viability of a suit of amparo.
It then analyzes the merits of the case by going through each of
the points raised by the petitioner, and insisted that the substantive
requirements to be given conditional registration were not fulfilled.
petitioner sent his observations on the Government's reply on April 9,
1992. The pertinent parts of
the petitioner's observations were forwarded to the Government on June 5,
1992, and its final reply was received at the Commission on August 4.
Essentially, the arguments that each party initially invoked were
repeated in these new communications.
The issues raised
There are two basic sides to the present case, i.e., the formal
side, concerning the discussion of the admissibility or inadmissibility of
the appeal and the eventual possibility of instituting a suit for amparo;
and then the substantive issue,i.e., the decision as to whether or not the
PSD effectively met the requirements under Mexican law to be given
conditional registration as a political party.
The Commission will analyze the formal question, which will be
determine whether or not the merits of the case should be examined.
The following is the case presented by the petitioner and the
Commission believes that the following chronological summary would be
helpful in understanding the discussion concerning the admissibility or
inadmissibility of the appeal:
11/5/90: The Federal
Electoral Institute (IFE), published an announcement in the Federation's
Official Gazette, directed at organizations and groups that wished to
participate in the 1991 elections, so that they might obtain their
conditional registration as political parties.
11/27/90: The Social
Democratic Party (PSD) presented its registration application.
12/21/90: A commission
was appointed at the Federal Election Institute (IFE) to prepare a draft
opinion on the PSD's request.
1/15/91: The IFE
Commission found the application for an conditional registration
inadmissible, alleging that the PSD did not meet the requirements
stipulated in the Federal Code of Election Institutions and Procedures (COFIPE).
1/22/91: The General
Council of the IFEL, to which the IFE's Commission opinion was submitted,
issued a decision endorsing the Commission's opinion and thereby denying
the application for conditional registration.
1/23/91: The IFEL's
Secretary General personally notified the PSD of the denial of the
application for registration and attached a copy of the decision of the
General Council of the IFEL.
1/28/91: The PSD filed
an appeal against the IFEL's decision.
1/31/91: The decision
of 1/22/91 was published in the Federation's Official Gazette.
2/9/91: The Central
Chamber of the Federal Election Tribunal issued a ruling whereby the
appeal was thrown out on the grounds that it was "patently
Before analyzing the arguments brought by the Government of Mexico
and the petitioner, for practical purposes the Commission will transcribe
those procedural provisions of the Federal Code of Election Institutions
and Procedures (COFIPE) whose interpretation is the contested issue:
Article 33, paragraph 6: "When
registration is called for, the Council shall issue the respective
certification. If the application for registration is denied, the Council
shall explain the reasons and shall advise the interested organization or
group. The corresponding
decision must be published in the Federation's Official Gazette."
Article 302: "The petitions for review and appeal must be filed
within three days of the date on which the act or decision being
challenged is learned or reported."
Article 305.1: "Notifications
may be done personally, by courts, by official memorandum, by certified
mail or by telegram, whichever is most effective in reporting the act or
resolution, except when this Code stipulates otherwise."
Article 311.1: "Acts
or decisions made public through the Federation's Official Gazette or
national or local newspapers or magazines, or by posting notices in the
chambers of the Institute and of the Tribunal or in public places, under
the terms of this Code, need not be personally notified and shall take
effect on the day following their publication or posting."
Article 314.1: "Any
suit filed under the following circumstances shall be regarded as patently
inadmissible and therefore dismissed:
Submitted after the deadlines stipulated in this Code."
summary of the Government's arguments:
In its reply of January 17 and August 4, 1992, the Government cites
the rules and regulations of COFIPE (articles 33, 302, 314.1, paragraph b)
to contend that the appeal must be filed within three days of the date on
which the act or decision being challenged is learned or reported. It further states that the appeal in this case was filed two
days after the time period prescribed by the election law had expired;
hence, it was rejected, since under that law, those petitions presented
after the stipulated deadline shall be regarded as patently inadmissible
and, accordingly, shall be dismissed.
As to the interpretation of Article 33.6 of COFIPE, the Government
stated that "when the Council of the Federal Electoral Institute
refuses to register a political party, its refusal must be honored -as was
done in the resolution denying conditional registration to the political
organization that calls itself the "Social Democratic Party" (PSD)-
observing the three requirements stipulated in that article which are:
- to explain the reasons
- to advise the interested
- to publish the decision in
the Official Gazette.
The Government added that these three elements are
"independent and at the same time complementary, since independence
does not preclude complementarity."
It concluded that had the lawmaker wanted notification to be made
by publishing the decision in the Official Gazette, said lawmaker would
have so stipulated; but nothing of the sort can be inferred from Article
Summary of the petitioner's argument:
The petitioner argued that under Article 33, paragraph 6 of COFIPE,
the only valid means of notification when an application for conditional
registration was denied was publication in the Federation's Official
Gazette. The petitioner added
that under Article 311, paragraph 1 of COFIPE, personal notification of
the decision was not required, because the law provided for notification
through the Federation's Official Gazette.
In the petitioner's note of April 9, 1992, concerning the
interpretation of Article 33 of COFIPE, the petitioner reiterated that
said article stipulated publication in the Official Gazette as the means
by which the interested parties were to be notified and that this should
be interpreted in light of Article 311.1.
The petitioner emphatically denied the Mexican Government's
interpretation to the effect that these were independent but at the same
time complementary provisions, and insisted that the only valid and
legally viable means to notify the interested parties of a decision such
as the one being challenged, was publication in the Official Gazette.
10. The petition
satisfies the requirements stipulated in Article 32 of the Commission's
Regulations, inasmuch as the procedure provided for in Article 34 thereof
has been exhausted.
11. In its reply
of January 17, 1992, the Government did not challenge the admisibility of
the petition based on a failure to exhaust domestic remedies, so that the
Commission will begin by addressing this issue, which was expressly
12. To determine
how the rules in dispute should be interpreted, the Commission must
consider what constitutes personal notification and what constitutes
publication in the Official Gazette, as recognized in international
doctrine. In this regard, the
Government of Mexico, in its note of January 17, 1992, stated the
following: "The purpose
of personal notification is to advise the interested party of the sense
and content of the resolution, while the purpose of publication is to put
it in the public domain, make it known to third parties...."
Under modern procedural law, the purpose of personal notification
is basically to advise the interested party of a decision that affects
said party directly, while publication is intended to inform the general
public of a decision that affects everyone.
A personal communication is precisely designed to allow a party
affected by a resolution or administrative act to challenge the decision;
publication is to inform the general public of the outcome of a matter
submitted for its consideration. The
latter is because electoral procedural law is public law, since in essence
it concerns the general interests. For
reasons of juridical security, decisions by electoral bodies must be made
known to the citizenry by means of publication through the means that the
law deems appropriate.
The Mexican Government's interpretation, therefore, conforms to the
general principles of procedural law and the Commission, therefore, shares
There is one strictly objective point, regardless of the
interpretation one chooses to use: if the time period began as of the personal notification, and
if the communication sent by the PSD on January 23 constituted that
personal notification, then the time period began on January 24 and
expired on January 26, according to the Government's argument.
If, on the other hand, the time period began as of publication in
the Official Gazette, as the petitioner alleges, and said publication
occurred on January 31, then the valid legal time period for filing the
complaint began on February 1 and expired on February 3.
The Commission would like to point out that the petitioner filed
the appeal on January 28, 1992. Regardless
of the interpretation used, no legal time period was then in effect.
This means that the appeal was, regardless of the interpretation
used, presented extemporaneously. But that saying subcommission, which
predates the decision's publication, allows one to presume that not even
the petitioner himself regards this--the publication--as the point at
which the time period for filing the appeal began.
Commission, then, believes at least in principle, that the appeal was
filed when the deadline for doing so had already expired and hence became
inadmissible. The petitioner, therefore, did not invoke any of the grounds
stipulated in Article 46.2 of the Convention for an exception in the case
of his petition.
Citing its own doctrine and in keeping with previous decisions, the
Commission notes that in its Resolution 29/89, on Case 10,198 (Nicaragua)
wherein the petitioner presented an appeal that was denied because it was
presented after the deadline, it found that for that reason "it would
therefore not be appropriate to consider the content of a document that
was not made part of the judicial records."
16. As a
consequence of the foregoing, the Commission believes that it would be
improper for it to address any of the other grounds for inadmissibility or
the merits of the case.
17. The Commission
declare inadmissible the petition presented by Mr. Luis Sánchez Aguilar,
based on Article 47.a of the American Convention on Human Rights, for the
reasons stipulated under the preceding paragraph.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will not address the merits of
the case and therefore need not address the validity of the reasons cited
by the petitioner to assert that he was unfairly denied the conditional
registration he had requested, for the reasons stated in the preceding
(*) The petitioner Mr. Luis Sánchez Aguilar, by note of December 31, 1992, presented his observations on Report Nº 27/92. Nevertheless, in the view of the Commission, their content does not merit altering its report.