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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mexico president plans criminal justice overhaul
Natalie Hrubos at 12:30 PM ET

[JURIST] Mexican President Felipe Calderon [official website; BBC profile] proposed changes to the country's constitution [text] Friday in an effort to reform its criminal justice system [press release]. Earlier this month, Amnesty International [advocacy website] accused Mexico [JURIST news archive] in a report [text] of having a "gravely flawed" criminal justice system in which human rights abuses are perpetuated and criminals are rarely punished. The report cited evidence of arbitrary detentions, torture, fabrication of evidence and unfair trials and claims that the victims are often indigenous Mexicans, the poor, women and children. The latest US Department of State human rights report [text] on Mexico released Monday reported:

Although the government generally respected and promoted human rights at the national level by investigating, prosecuting, and sentencing public officials and members of the security forces, a deeply entrenched culture of impunity and corruption persisted, particularly at the state and local level. The following human rights problems were reported: unlawful killings by security forces; kidnappings, including by police; torture; poor and overcrowded prison conditions; arbitrary arrests and detention; corruption, inefficiency, and lack of transparency in the judicial system; statements coerced through torture permitted as evidence in trials; criminal intimidation of journalists, leading to self-censorship; corruption at all levels of government; domestic violence against women often perpetrated with impunity; criminal violence, including killings against women; trafficking in persons, sometimes allegedly with official involvement; social and economic discrimination against indigenous people; and child labor.
On Friday, Calderon said he plans to replace each state's individual criminal code with a single, nationwide code. He also wants to make it easier to fire corrupt police officers and to transition to trials similar to those in the US. Trials are currently held behind closed doors. AP has more.





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