In testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade, WOLA Director for Mexico and Migrant Rights Maureen Meyer discussed the measures that the Mexican government is taking to strengthen its justice institutions, given record levels of violence in 2019.
Meyer outlined how recent high-profile acts of violence and corruption—including an October gun battle that occurred when Mexican security forces attempted to detain the son of Sinaloa cartel leader “Chapo” Guzmán, and the December arrest of Mexico’s former top security official for allegedly colluding with the cartel—drew attention to the security challenges facing the Andrés Manuel López Obrador administration.
Past administrations have taken important steps to lay the groundwork to strengthen rule of law, in order to combat the widespread corruption and impunity that is fueling insecurity and violence. This includes sweeping justice reforms passed in 2008, meant to establish an adversarial justice system in Mexico; 2014 reforms establishing a new, autonomous attorney general’s office, and the establishment of a national anti-corruption system in 2016. A major question facing President López Obrador’s government concerns the levels of commitment needed to fully implement these reforms.
“To reduce impunity, the Mexican government must work to create trustworthy, rights-respecting criminal justice institutions that are capable of effectively investigating and prosecuting crimes,” Meyer said in her testimony. “In this regard, as U.S.-Mexico cooperation moves forward, both governments should ensure that strengthening the rule of law is a centerpiece of these discussions.”
Meyer outlined the role of the United States as a partner in Mexico’s efforts to strengthen rule of law. She urged the U.S. government to continue to encourage Mexico to make progress in bolstering the independence and capacity of justice institutions, and to recognize the role that arms trafficking and U.S. demand for illicit drugs plays in fueling violence in Mexico.