For the last eight years, Mexico has been trying to overhaul its justice system, described by many as dysfunctional, with a series of extensive reforms set to be implemented next month.
But Mexico isn’t even close to being ready.
A study published by CIDAC, an independent Mexican think tank, said that the country needs 11 more years for the reforms to be implemented at the current pace.
The reforms, which have a constitutional deadline of June 18, replace Mexico’s current system with one more similar to the US’s criminal-justice system.
Because of the slow-moving nature of written proceedings, a massive case backlog has formed in Mexico’s courts. The result: a patchy and antiquated justice system that leaves some perpetrators unpunished and suspects languishing in prison awaiting trial for years.
Reuters – Mexico’s new accusatory justice system, which has been in the works for eight years and is due to be implemented by next month, needs 11 more years to take hold properly, according to a study published on Wednesday.
AP – A woman who returned to Mexico from Seattle to lead a community police force was freed from prison on Friday after courts threw out charges of homicide and kidnapping. The case of Nestora Salgado has become a rallying point for activists who say the vigilante-like community groups that have sprung up across rural Mexico are cracking down on crimes ignored or fostered by corrupt government police forces.
AP – Amnesty International says five Mexican marines have been arrested in relation to the 2013 disappearance of a man in northern Mexico. The five are to be charged in the case of Armando del Bosque Villarreal, who went missing in Nuevo Leon state.
The Republic – A former mayor in Mexico was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison after pleading guilty to operating a drug-trafficking ring in southern Arizona. Arturo Reyes Trujillo, 43, was sentenced to 262 months in prison by a U.S. District Judge. Trujillo was elected municipal president in Fronteras, Sonora, in 2012.
Aquariums, sauna baths, digital TVs and more than 280 food stands, including a bar. Those are some of the perks dismantled by authorities at Topo Chico prison in northern Mexico, the site of a bloody riot earlier this month that left 49 inmates dead.
The pile of contraband, which had to be removed with heavy machinery due to its bulk, is not a sign of progressive corrections policy. Instead, it underscores the fact that criminals were running the jail in Monterrey, in the state of Nuevo León.
And that’s the situation in many of Mexico’s jails. Nearly 60 percent of state prisons are dominated by inmate self-rule, according to an evaluation of dozens of penitentiary centers by the National Human Rights Commission in 2014.
The agency found that inmate groups run many aspects of prison life, including family visits, the use of phones, and even what inmates are fed. The situation, it says in its report, leads to violence and power struggles.
Despite repeated calls for public officials to do something about the growing problem, experts say conditions haven’t improved in recent years.
“There’s a criminal society inside the jails, with its organization and privileges, and in which everything has a price,” Daniel Montero Zendejas, a criminal law expert, tells Quartz.
BBC – Police have retaken control of the Topo Chico jail following last week’s riot in which 49 inmates were killed. Officials said officers had “put an end to the self-government imposed by criminal leaders in collusion with some prison authorities”. They also dismantled “luxury cells” containing mini-bars, aquariums and saunas in the prison in Monterrey. The prison warden and superintendent have been arrested.
Radio Formula – After ensuring that Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias “El Chapo” is willing to testify in favor of Kate del Castillo, the lawyer José Refugio Rodriguez reiterated that the conditions of detention his client are inhumane.
CNN – Mexican authorities have arrested three suspects in the case of a 7-month-old baby who was shot and killed along with his parents as they left a convenience store in the city of Pinotepa Nacional, Oaxaca state.
Less than one percent of crimes are punished in Mexico, according to a new study that highlights the grave structural and institutional weaknesses that have allowed organized crime to flourish in the country.
According to the new Mexico Global Impunity Index published by the Center for Impunity and Justice Studies at Universidad de Las Américas, only 4.46 percent of crimes recorded in Mexico result in convictions.
However, the report adds, only around seven percent of crimes are actually reported, which when taken into account means that over 99 percent of crimes committed in Mexico go unpunished. The study found the most common reasons for not reporting crimes were the amount of time it takes and a lack of faith in the authorities.
The report also ranked other countries around the globe by assigning impunity scores based on various factors, from crime reporting rates to the capacities of security and justice institutions. Among the countries included in the report, Mexico ranked as the second worst for impunity after the Philippines and the worst in the Americas, with only Colombia coming close to Mexico’s score.
The CESIJ blamed a combination of political failures and meddling, weak, underfunded and corrupt institutions as well as the presence of organized crime for Mexico’s impunity woes.
The Guardian – Deeply concerned that the world’s most notorious drug kingpin Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán could escape for a third time, Mexico has beefed up security at his prison, moving him between cells, reinforcing the floor of his cell and placing a 24-hour guard on his door.
WSJ – Mexico will act on U.S. requests to extradite captured drug lord Joaquín Guzmán, the government said. The U.S. has filed two extradition requests with the Mexican government, which has ruled the requests fulfill the requirements of the extradition treaty.
Slate – After drug kingpin Joaquín Guzmán Loera’s recapture Friday, the immediate political question is whether he will be extradited to the United States. The U.S. had issued a formal request for Guzmán’s extradition less than three weeks before his escape last summer. Cases involving drug trafficking and other crimes are pending against him in several U.S. jurisdictions.
For decades, foreign workers have traveled to the US on guest worker visas to help pick fruit and vegetables, cut lawns, work in restaurants, and set up carnivals. Workers from Mexico make up the large majority of visa holders for these low-skill categories of guest laborers.
Migrant workers say they expected the visa process to protect them from exploitation. But the way the system is designed can make many workers vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking. Temporary workers are bound to one employer, and often arrive in the US in debt due to illegal recruitment fees or upfront transit costs.
Advocates say abuses that can add up to trafficking – lying about the nature of the work before arrival, forcing employees to work long hours without breaks, making threats about worker’s families, paying workers below the minimum wage, and physical or sexual assault – are exacerbated by the fact that guest workers are required to leave the United States at the end of each season.
Back home, they are far away from the US legal system or advocates that might help them push for justice against abusive or exploitive employers.
But over the past decade more lawyers, NGOs, government representatives and migrant advocates on both sides of the border have worked together to short circuit a guest-worker system that relies on laborers not knowing that they are entitled to legal recourse, or how to go about getting it.
They see this effort for cross-border justice, painstaking and time-consuming as it is, as vital to reducing labor trafficking and migrant worker exploitation in the US.
Several people who were wrongly detained and allegedly tortured by Mexican police have been released after spending years in custody, human rights groups said Thursday.
The releases involved four people who were arrested in 2012 and 2013 in cities along the border with the United States and accused of crimes of which they were ultimately absolved. They all walked free Wednesday.
Amnesty International said in a statement that the cases offer “hope for justice in countless similar cases of people tortured and detained unfairly.”
Razon – Leonardo Augustus Patterson, one of the biggest traffickers of archeological works worldwide, was sentenced in Germany to a year and three months in prison for selling to a citizen of that country a replica of a colossal Olmec head, which he presented as original.