A witness identificationn process called careo or face-to-face confrontation, when and where it takes place, and whether there are safeguards to protect witnesses [MEX37952.E]

A publication of the Legal Research Insitute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico defines careo as a "procedural action" (acto procesal) aimed at clarifying contradictory statements of the accused, victim(s) and witness(es), to arrive at the truth (INFOJUS 1995). According to the source, the Constitution of Mexico (Article 20) guarantees the right of the accused to face those who testify against him or her; the Federal Code of Criminal Procedures stipulates that careos are to take place if the accused or defendant request it and if there is a substantial contradiction in the testimony of two persons; it can take place more than once if the court deems it necessary or new contradictions in the case arise (ibid.).

The term careo has its roots in "face to face confrontation" (enfrentamiento cara a cara), and is regarded in Mexican law as a constitutional guarantee for the accused, as the Constitution allows it for the accused in any criminal trial, and as an evidentiary mechanism (medio de prueba) as provided in the Federal Code of Criminal Procedures (ibid.).

Mexican law recognizes three different types of careo:

-the "constitutional careo," which refers to the accused exercising his or her constitutional right to confront those who provide testimony against him or her, regardles of whether there is a contradiction in testimonies or not;
-the "legal careo," which is when the careo provision of the Federal Code of Criminal Procedures is applied to confront contradictory testimonies;
-the "complementary careo" (careo supletorio), which may take place when any of those who should be taking part in a careo is not before the court (ibid.).

On the "complementary careo" the source states that this particular legal tool was established in the criminal codes of the Federal District and of the Mexican Federation (Federal Code). According to these provisions, when one of the persons who should participate cannot, for whatever reason, be presented before the court, the party that is present is read the testimony of the absent party, pointing out the contradictions (ibid.).

According to the available report, a distinguished Mexican law scholar described the careo as a valuable tool in theory: in practice, most judges are not present at the time a careo takes place, and the process is reduced to an appearance of the parties to the careo before a secretary of the court who merely notifies them of the contradiction of their statements and notes whether they confirm their statements (ibid.).

Finally, the report states that as a result of a July 1994 amendment to Article 20 of the Constitution of Mexico, careos ceased to be a legal duty (oblicagión legal) of judges and became exclusively a prerogative of the accsed or their defendants (ibid.).

A representative at the consular section of the Embassy of Mexico in Ottawa stated during a 14 January 2002 telephone interview that the careo is the confrontation in person, before a court, of a witness and the accused or defendant. The representative added that Mexico does have a witness protection program; however, access to it is limited, and eligibility of a witness would depend on the specific circumstances of a case. Details of the witness protection program are not currently available for general public dissemination (ibid.).

Limited information on protection available to witnesses in Mexico can be found in MEX35480.E of 1 November 2000.

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 to refugee status or asylum.


Embassy of Mexico, consular section, Ottawa. 14 January 2002. Telephone interview with representative.

Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la UNAM (INFOJUS), Mexico City. 1995. Anuario Jurídico de México 1994. José David García Saavedra. "Careos. Alcance de la reforma a la Fracción IV del Artículo 20 Constitucional." http://info.juridicas.unam.mx/publica/anuario/ anuar94/careos1.htm