New Report on Judicial Reform by Justice in Mexico

justice in mexico logoBy David A. Shirk and Octavio Rodriguez Ferreira, Justice in Mexico

October 8, 2015

On October 8, 2015, Justice in Mexico launched a new report that provides a deep analysis of the current process of judicial reform in Mexico. The Criminal Procedure Reform in Mexico 2008-2016, by authors Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira and David A. Shirk, analyzes the process of implementing judicial reform in Mexico as well as the impacts of the reform on the federal and state level, as well as some of the past, present and future challenges to implementation efforts. Overall, the authors find that despite obstacles to the reform’s implementation, significant progress has been made and will continue in the years to come.

In 2008 the Mexican Congress approved an eight-year process to improve the criminal justice system, in a reform known as the New Criminal Justice System (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, NSJP). The NSJP will replace the traditional mixed inquisitorial justice system with a more efficient adversarial model. The new system will be operational throughout the country by June 18, 2016.

Read the report…

Upcoming Event! Advancing Justice Sector Reform in Mexico

justice - gavel and bookWHEN: Friday, June 26, 9:30-11:00am

WHERE: 5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC

Click here to RSVP.

Mexico’s deadline to fully implement new, adversarial criminal trial procedures is less than one year away. The government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has pushed strongly to comply with the constitutionally mandated shift to the new criminal justice system by June 18, 2015, particularly in light of the country’s ongoing security challenges. Together with the University of San Diego’s Justice in Mexico program, the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will host a panel discussion to examine current efforts to implement the new reforms. The discussion will include a presentation of recent survey data on the views of judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and police, as well as insights from a delegation of visiting law professors attorneys from Mexico’s National Autonomous University as part of the Oral Advocacy Skill-building Immersion Seminar (OASIS) funded by the Mérida Initiative. This program will be conducted in English and Spanish.


“Justice in Mexico: The Road Traveled and the Road Ahead”
David Shirk, Global Fellow, Mexico Institute; Professor, University of San Diego

“Progress Report: Judicial Reform Implementation in Mexico”
Octavio Rodriguez, Esq., Coordinator, Justice in Mexico, University of San Diego

“La preparación de la próxima generación de abogados en México”
Leoba Castañeda, Dean, Law School, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

“Algunos retos para el nuevo sistema penal”
Alberto Del Castillo Del Valle, Professor, Law School, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México


Daniel Schneider, Professor, School of International Service, American University

Click here to RSVP.

Experts Warn of Challenges to Mexico’s Judicial Reform Rollout

By Michael Lohmuller, InSight Crime, 3/30/2015

prisonTwo investigators recently sat down to discuss Mexico’s ongoing judicial reforms, highlighting several shortcomings related to juvenile detention and police procedures that threaten to undermine new policies set to be fully implemented next year.

Speaking at the Wilson Center on March 27, Elena Azaola — a Mexican psychoanalyst and anthropologist — discussed her recent work investigating juvenile delinquency and the institutions available to help support at-risk youth in Mexico. Azaola examined the obstacles facing adolescents, interviewing a total of 278 jailed youths (aged 18 and younger) in the states of Coahuila, Hidalgo, Morelos, and Sinaloa.

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Op Ed: “Aun en Pantalla” (In Spanish)

Reforma, 11/11/2013

By Denisse Dresser

81px-Presunto_culpableHace casi tres años, el documental Presunto culpable evidenció a un sistema judicial podrido. Expuso a jueces incompetentes. A policías abusivos. A testigos mentirosos. A funcionarios del Ministerio Público que acusan al azar porque “es su chamba”. La película plasmó todo lo que no funciona con la justicia en el país. Alertó, sacudió, evidenció y marcó el mapa de ruta de lo que tendría que hacerse para que no hubiera un inocente más en la cárcel. Para que Toño Zúñiga fuera la excepción y no la regla. Para que ni un sólo mexicano fuera aprehendido arbitrariamente, juzgado discrecionalmente, encarcelado injustamente.

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New Resources on the victims movement and judicial reform in Mexico

The Mexico Institute is pleased to share with you the following new resources on civic engagement and public security in Mexico.

The Victims’ Movement in Mexico-By Lauren Villagran

After a lengthy effort to combat organized crime in Mexico, the mental and emotional damage caused by violence has inflicted a heavy toll on the population. Increasingly, people who have been victims themselves have emerged as the most powerful advocates for their rights as victims, especially justice before the law. While many groups help deal with the pain of loss, the need exists for a more dedicated effort to help institutionalize judicial reforms. This paper seeks to examine the composition of victims groups, their organizational structure and internal divisions, and helps shed light on a number of facets of this social movement.

Click here to read the paper.

Civic Engagement and the Judicial Reform: The role of civil society in reforming criminal justice in Mexico-By Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira

Although civil society in Mexico has long been weak there have recently been encouraging signs of engagement and activism in response to the rule of law and security concerns. This report focuses on the role played by civil society in the judicial reform process, highlighting the efforts of organizations that have been influential and emblematic of civic activism in this area.

Click here to read the paper.

Mexican Court Orders Release of Frenchwoman

prisonThe Wall Street Journal, 1/23/2013

Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday freed a Frenchwoman who had been found guilty of kidnapping and jailed since 2005, arguing that her case was plagued by police abuse, including the staging of her arrest for broadcast on live television.

“The good news is that there is a reform process on the way,” said Eric Olson, Associate Director of the Latin American Program at Washington’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars “The Supreme Court is a much more independent actor, and is willing to stand up for basic procedures and guarantees. But there is much more to be done.”

Mr. Olson said the Cassez case highlights the dilemma that all countries face, including the U.S., when they face a violent threat, be it kidnapping or terrorism. “There is an enormous temptation when have such a threat to throw out the rule of law,” he said. “Mexico and any country are better off in the long run strengthening the rule of law.”

Read more…

Mexico: Majority of Federal Inmates Imprisoned on Drug Charges

Fox News Latino, 1/16/2013

Guns by Flickr user barjackMexico’s first survey of its federal criminal justice system confirmed what many  have assumed for years: The country’s prisons are packed with inmates imprisoned  on drug charges and there is widespread corruption throughout the entire system.

Read more…