Amnesty calls on new government to improve Mexico’s justice system

Mexico’s public security and criminal justice system has been slammed in a new report by Amnesty International.

Entitled ‘Laws Without Justice’, the report published earlier this month highlights the absence of the ‘presumption of innocence’ clause in the Mexican constitution and claims that this has contributed to a lack of confidence in Mexican justice.

The report also alleges the fabrication of criminal charges to persecute both political and human rights activists and claims that most criminal suspects are denied access to adequate legal advice and representation at the point of detention.

Amnesty claims its research revealed that scores of Mexicans were being detained on the basis of flawed or nonexistent evidence. It adds that, in the few cases where official investigations have been undertaken into abuses, those responsible are rarely brought to justice.

The agency has called on the newly elected Mexican government and congress to modernise to conform to international human rights standards.

The leader of Amnesty’s Mexico delegation Esteban Beltrán said: “The flaws in Mexico’s judicial system mean that arbitrary detention, torture, unfair trials and impunity are systematic at a state and federal level across the country.

“If the new administration doesn’t take effective action, they’ll be sending the message that human rights violations are tolerated in Mexico.”

The organisation’s report also reveals that it is the poorest Mexicans who suffer abuses while in custody, and that they are also provided with the least experienced or competent defence lawyers.

According to a census conducted by Mexico’s Federal Institute of Public Defence, in 2004 there were only 82 lawyers with the required qualifications to represent Mexico’s 13 million indigenous people.

Beltrán continued: “A strong, impartial and accountable criminal justice system that protects human rights of the accused and victims is the cornerstone of a just society.

“As such, major improvements must be a top priority in the public security measures being developed by the new Mexican government.”