The December 2003 UNOHCHR assessment of human rights in Mexico highlights the many flaws that exist in the judiciary and recommends an overhaul of the justice system, particularly with regard to criminal justice.
The judiciary’s independence is threatened by interference from the executive and legislature. In March 2004 President Fox proposed sweeping reform of the public security and criminal justice systems involving amendments to the Constitution and legislation as well as the introduction of new laws.
The reform seeks to enshrine the autonomy of the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República) in the Constitution and to substantially reorganize the inefficient and poorly supervised prosecution system.
A new law on the Attorney General’s Office entered into force on 28 December 2002. The reform also proposes to transform the predominantly inquisitorial criminal justice system into an adversarial one in order to enhance fair trial rights.
Progress in judicial reform is slow in practice, with no substantial changes having been made since 2001. Lawyers who are committed to upholding human rights continue to face harassment and threats.
A landmark decision by the Mexican Supreme Court, ruling that abductions and disappearances were not subject to statutes of limitations, paved the way for the Special Prosecutor for Past Social and Political Movements to charge former political and military officials with human rights abuses.
However, so far no trials have taken place. According to the Special Prosecutor, his work is being significantly hampered by a lack of cooperation from other state bodies. Indigenous communities do not enjoy effective access to justice, not least because of linguistic difficulties.
Mexico-attacks on justice-publications-2005 (full text, PDF)Attacks on Justice 2005Publications