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THE CONSTITUTION OF 1917*
Signed January 31, 1917; Promulgated February 5, 1917; Effective May 1,

1917
Translated by H. N. BRANCH, LL.B.

TITLE I

CHAPTER I

Of Personal Guarantees Article 1. Every person in the United States of Mexico shall enjoy the guarantees granted by this Constitution; these shall neither be abridged nor suspended except in such cases and under such conditions as are herein provided.

Art. 2. Slavery is forbidden in the United States of Mexico. Slaves who enter the national territory from abroad shall, by this act alone, recover their freedom, and enjoy the protection of the law.

Art. 3. Instruction is free; that given in public institutions of learn. ing shall be secular. Primary instruction, whether higher or lower, given in private institutions shall likewise be secular.

No religious corporation nor minister of any creed shall establish or direct schools of primary instruction.

Private primary schools may be established only subject to official supervision.

Primary instruction in public institutions shall be gratuitous.

Art. 4. No person shall be prevented from engaging in any profession, industrial or commercial pursuit or occupation of his liking, provided it be lawful. The exercise of this berty shall only be forbidden by judi. cial order when the rights of third persons are infringed, or by executive order, issued under the conditions prescribed by law, when the rights of society are violated. No one shall be deprived of the fruit of his labor except by judicial decree.

Each state shall determine by law what professions shall require licenses, the requisites to be complied with in obtaining the same, and the authorities empowered to issue them.

Art. 5. No one shall be compelled to render personal services without due compensation and without his full consent, exeepting labor imposed as a penalty by judicial decree, which shall conform to the provisions of clauses I and II of Article 123.

Only the following public services shall be obligatory, subject to the conditions set forth in the respective laws: military service, jury service. service in municipal and other public elective office, whether this election be direct or indirect, and service in connection with elections, which shall be obligatory and without compensation.

The State shall not permit any contract, covenant or agreement to be carried out having for its object the abridgment, loss or irrevocable sacrifice of the liberty of man, whether by reason of labor, education or religious vows. The law, therefore, does not permit the establishment of monastic orders, of whatever denomination, or for whatever purpose contemplated.

Nor shall any person legally agree to his own proscription or exile, or to the temporary or permanent renunciation of the exercise of any profession or industrial or commercial pursuit.

A contract for labor shall only be binding to render the services agreed upon for the time fixed by law and shall not exceed one year to the preju. dice of the party rendering the service; nor shall it in any case whatsoever embrace the waiver, loss or abridgment of any political or civil right. In the event of a breach of such contract on the part of the party pledging himself to render the service, the said party shall only be liable civilly for damages arising from such breach, and in no event shall coercion against his person be employed.

* Reprinted from the 1920-21 edition of the Year Book.

Art. 6. The expression of ideas shall not be the subject of any judicial or executive investigation, unless it offend good morals, impair the rights of third parties, incite to crime or cause a breach of the peace.

Art. 7. Freedom of writing and publishing writings on any subject is inviolable. No law or authority shall have the right to establish censorship, require bond from authore or printers, nor restrict the liberty of the press, which shall be limited only by the respect due to private life, morals and the public peace. Under no circumstances shall a printing press be sequestrated as the corpus delicti.

The organic laws shall prescribe whatever provisions may be necessary to prevent the imprisonment, under pretext of a denunciation of offenses of the press, of the vendors, newsboys, workmen and other employees of the establishment publishing the writing denounced, unless their liability be previously established.

Art. 8. Public officials and eniployees shall respect the exercise of the right of petition, provided it be formulated in writing and in a peaceful and respectful manner; but this right may be exercised in political matters solely by citizens.

On every petition there shall be given a ruling by the official to whom it may be addressed, and the said official shall be bound to inform the petitioner of such ruling within a brief period.

Art. 9. The right peaceably to assemble or to come together for any lawful purpose shall not be abridged; but only citizens shall be permitted to exercise this right for the purpose of taking part in the political affairs of the country. No armed assembly shall have the right to deliberate.

No meeting or assembly shall be deemed unlawful, nor may it be dissolved, which shall have for its purpose the petitioning or presenting of any protest against any act to an authority, provided no insults be proffered against the said authority, nor violence resorted to, nor threats used to intimidate or to compel the said authority to render a favorable decision.

Art. 10. The inhabitants of the United States of Mexico are entitled to have arms of any kind in their possession for their protection and legitimate defense, excepting such as are expressly prohibited by law and such as the nation may reserve for the exclusive use of the army, navy and national guard; but they shall not bear such arms within inhabited places, except subject to the police regulations thereof.

Art. 11. Every one has the right to enter and leave the Republic, to travel through its territory and change his residence without necessity of a letter of security, passport, safe conduct or any other similar requirement. The exercise of this right shall be subordinated to the powers of the judiciary, in the event of civil or criminal liability, and to those of the executive, in so far as relates to the limitations imposed by law in regard to emigration, immigration, and the public health of the country, or in regard to undesirable foreigners resident in the country.

Art. 12. No titles of nobility, prerogatives or hereditary honors shall be granted in the United States of Mexico, nor shall any effect be given to those granted by other countries.

Art. 13. No one shall be tried according to private laws or by special tribunals. No person or corporation shall have privileges nor enjoy emol. uments which are not in compensation for public services and established by law. Military jurisdiction shall subsist for crimes and offenses against military discipline, but the military tribunals shall in no case and for no reason extend their jurisdiction over persons not belonging to the army. Whenever a civilian shall be implicated in any military crime or offense, the cause shall be heard by the corresponding civil authorities.

Art. 14. No law shall be given retroactive effect to the prejudice of any person whatsoever.

No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, property, possessions or rights except by means of a suit instituted before a previously created court, in which the essential elements of procedure are observed and in accordance with laws enacted prior to the act.

In criminal cases no penalty shall be imposed by mere analogy or even by a priori evidence, but the penalty shall be decreed by a law in every respect applicable to the crime in question.

In civil suits the final judgment shall be according to the letter or the juridical interpretation of the law; in the absence of the latter, the ger. eral principles of law shall govern.

Art. 15. No treaty shall be authorized for the extradition of political offenders, or of offenders of the common class, who have been slaves in the country where the offense was committed. Nor shall any agreement or treaty be entered into which abridges or modifies the guarantees and rights which this Constitution grants to the individual and to the citizen.

Art. 16. No one shall be molested in his person, family, domicile, papers or possessions, except by virtue of an order in writing of the competent authority setting forth the legal ground and justification for the action taken. No order of arrest or detention shall be issued against any person other than by competent judicial authority, nor unless preceded by a charge, accusation or complaint for a specific offense punishable by imprisonment, supported by an affidavit of a credible party or by such other evidence as shall make the guilt of the accused probable; in cases in flagrante delicto any person may arrest the offender and his accomplices, placing them without delay at the disposition of the nearest author. ities. Only in urgent cases instituted by the public attorney without previous complaint or indictment and when there is no judicial authority available may the administrative authorities, on their strictest accountability, order the detention of the accused, placing him at the disposition of the judicial authorities. Every search warrant, which may only be issued by the judicial authority and which must be in writing, shall specify the place to be searched, the person or persons to be arrested and the objects sought, to which the proceeding shall be strictly limited; at the conclusion of which, a detailed written statement shall be drawn up in the presence of two witnesses proposed by the occupant of the place searched, or, in his absence or refusal, by the officer making the search.

Administrative officials may enter private houses solely for the purpose of determining that the sanitary and police regulations have been complied with; they may likewise demand the exhibition of books and documents necessary to prove that the fiscal regulations have been obeyed, subject to the respective laws and to the formalities prescribed for cases of search,

Art. 17. No one shall be imprisoned for debts of a purely civil character. No one shall take the law into his own hands, nor resort to violence in the enforcement of his rights. The courts shall be open for the administration of justice at such times and under such conditions as the law may establish; their services shall be gratuitous and all judicial costs are accordingly prohibited.

Art. 18. Detention shall be exercised only for offenses meriting corporal punishment. The place of detention shall be different and completely separated from that set apart for the serving of sentences.

The Federal and State Governments shall organize in their respective territories the penal system-penal colonies, penetenciaries or prisons-on the basis of labor as a means of regeneration.

Art. 19. No detention shall exceed three days except for reasons specified in the formal order of commitment, which shall set forth the offense charged, the substance thereof, the time, place and circumstances of its commission, and the facts disclosed in the preliminary examination; these facts must always be sufficient to establish the corpus delicti and the probable guilt of the accused. All authorities ordering any detention or consenting thereto, as well as all agents, subordinates, wardens or jailers executing the same, shall be liable for any breach of this provision.

The trial shall take place only for the offense or offenses set forth in the formal order of commitment. If it shall develop in the course of trial that another offense different from that charged has been committed, a separate accusation must be brought. This, however, shall not prevent the joinder of both causes of action, if deemed advisable.

Any maltreatment during apprehension or confinement; any molestation inflicted without legal justification; any exaction or contribution levied in prison are abuses which the law shall correct and the authorities repress.

Art. 20. In every criminal trial the accused shall enjoy the following guarantees:

I. He shall be set at liberty on demand and upon giving a bond up to ten thousand pesos, according to his status and the gravity of the offense charged, provided, however, that the said offense shall not be punishable with more than five years' imprisonment; he shall be set at liberty without any further requisite than the placing of the stipulated sum at the disposal of the proper authorities or the giving of an adequate mortgage bond or personal security.

II. He may not be forced to be a witness against himself; wherefore denial of access or other means looking towards this end is hereby strictly prohibited.

III. He shall be publicly notified within forty-eight hours after being turned over to the judicial authorities of the name of his accuser and of the nature of and grounds of the accusation, so that he may be familiar with the offense with which he is charged, may reply thereto and make his preliminary statement.

IV. He shall be confronted with the witnesses against him, who shall testify in his presence if they are to be found in the place where the trial is being held, so that he may cross-examine them in his defense.

V. All witnesses which he shall offer shall be heard in his defense, as well as all evidence received, for which he shall be given such time as the law may prescribe; he shall furthermore be assisted in securing the presence of any person or persons whose testimony he may request, provided they are to be found at the place of trial.

VI. He shall be entitled to a public trial by a judge or jury of citizens who can read and write and are also citizens of the place and district where the offense shall have been committed, provided the penalty for such offense be greater than one year's imprisonment. The accused shall always be entitled to trial by jury for all offenses committed by means of the press against the public peace or against the safety, domestic or foreign, of the Republic.

VII. He shall be furnished with all information of record needed for his defense.

VIII. He shall be tried within four months, if charged with an offense the maximum penalty for which does not exceed two years' imprisonment, and within one year, if the maximum penalty be greater.

IX. He shall be heard in his own defense, either personally or by counsel, or by both, as he may desire. In case he shall have no one to defend him, a list of official counsel shall be submitted to him in order that he may choose one or more to act in his defense. If the accused shall not desire to name any counsel for his defense, after having been called upon to do so at the time of his preliminary examination, the court shall appoint counsel to defend him. The accused may name his counsel immediately on arrest and shall be entitled to have him present at every stage of the trial; but he shall be bound to make him appear as often as required by the court.

X. In no event may imprisonment or detention be extended through failure to pay counsel fees or through any other pecuniary charge, by virtue of any civil liability or other similar cause. Nor shall detention be extended beyond the time set by law as the maximum for the offense charged.

The period of detention shall be reckoned as a part of the final sentence.

Art. 21. The imposition of penalties is an exclusive attribute of the judiciary. The prosecution of offenses belongs to the public prosecutor and to the judicial police, who shall be under the immediate command and authority of the public prosecutor. The punishment of violations of municipal and police regulations belongs to the administrative authorities, and shall consist only of a fine or of imprisonment not exceeding thirty-six hours. Should the offender fail to pay the fine this shall be substituted by the corresponding period of arrest, which shall in no case exceed fifteen days.

Should the offender be a workman or day laborer, he shall not be punished with a fine greater than the amount of his weekly or daily wage.

Art. 22. Punishments by mutilation and infamy, by branding, flogging, beating with sticks, torture of any kind, excessive fines, confiscation of property and any other penalties, unusual or working corruption of the blood, are prohibited.

Attachment proceedings of the whole or part of the property of any person made under judicial authority to cover any civil liability arising out of the commission of any offense, or by reason of the imposition of any tax or fine, shall not be deemed a confiscation of property.

Capital punishment is likewise forbidden for all political offenses; in the case of offenses other than political it shall only be imposed for high treason committed during a foreign war, parricide, murder with malice aforethought, arson, abduction, highway robbery, piracy, and grave military offenses.

Art. 23. No criminal case shall have more than three instances. No one, whether acquitted or convicted, shall be tried a second time for the same offense. The practice of discharging in one instance is abolished.

Art. 24. Everyone is free to embrace the religion of his choice and to practice all ceremonies, devotions or observances of his respective creed, either in places of public worship or at home, provided they do not constitute an offense punishable by law.

Every religious act of public worship shall be performed strictly within the places of public worship, which shall be at all times under govern. mental supervision.

Art. 25. Sealed correspondence sent through the mails shall be free from search, and its violation shall be punishable by law.

Art. 26. No member of the army shall in time of peace be quartered in private dwellings, without the consent of the owner; nor shall he demand any exaction. In time of war the military may require lodging, equipment, provisions and other assistance, in the manner provided by the corresponding martial law.

Art. 27. The ownership of lands and waters comprised within the limits of the national territory is vested originally in the Nation, which has had, and has, the right to transmit title thereof to private persons, thereby constituting private property.

Private property shall not be expropriated except for reasons of public utility and by means of indemnification.

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