WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

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13 Nov 2019 | Publication

WOLA Report: Mexico’s Rule of Law Efforts 11 Years After Criminal Justice Reform

Challenges and Opportunities for the López Obrador Administration

A new report by research and advocacy group the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Mexico’s Rule of Law Efforts: 11 Years After Criminal Justice Reforms, details steps the Mexican government can take to bolster the capacity of its criminal justice system to address corruption, violence, and human rights violations.

In recent months, a number of high-profile acts of violence in Mexico have garnered national and international media attention and highlighted the extensive security challenges facing the Mexican government. Growing violence, coupled with widespread impunity, has underscored the urgent need to strengthen Mexico’s justice institutions. Since the start of the year, an average of 95 people a day have been killed in Mexico—yet only 5 percent of homicide cases ever end in a conviction.

More than eleven years and two presidential terms have passed since Mexico approved sweeping constitutional reforms mandating the nationwide adoption of an adversarial criminal justice system, a tool meant to strengthen Mexico’s capacity to counter violence and impunity.

In the report, WOLA examines Mexico’s progress in implementing the adversarial system, as well as the degree to which this transition has helped make Mexico’s justice institutions more transparent, efficient, fair, and rights-respecting. In addition, we take stock of the Mexican government’s approach to criminal justice reforms during the first year of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s presidency.

This includes an analysis of the troubling implications of recently approved reforms that are contrary to due process guarantees, as well as other pending proposals that are reminiscent of the old inquisitorial system and its shortcomings. The report also includes an evaluation of U.S. support for Mexico’s rule of law efforts over the past decade.