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Media 012615 Presidencia

Monday, January 26, 2015

'Sweeping Changes' to Mexico's Justice System and Human Rights

Presidency of the Republic

· "We want a Mexico with order and security; a Mexico where there is no corruption or impunity; in other words, where anyone who commits a crime is punished."   President Enrique Peña Nieto

 

During the inauguration of the National Forum on “Equity for Victims in Due Process,” President Enrique Peña Nieto said that in recent years the legal and institutional framework for the respect and protection of victims’ rights has been updated. This sweeping change, he added, is based on three major legal developments: the transition to an Adversarial Criminal Justice System; Constitutional Reform in the Field of Human Rights; and the Victims Act, enacted in January 2013.

 

“We want a Mexico with order and security; a Mexico where there is no corruption or impunity; in other words, where anyone who commits a crime is punished,” he added.

 

He said that, “Few things offend a person as much as the fact that, after enduring the indifference of public servants, long waits and the overwhelming paperwork, his assailant unfortunately remains at large.”

 

He therefore stressed the importance of this forum, “Which brings together citizens, representatives of civil society organizations, the media, and state and federal authorities who share a fundamental commitment: improving justice in Mexico.”

 

He stressed that, “A necessary step to achieving this is to ensure fairness in due process, so that victims are not at a disadvantage in relation to those accused of having committed a crime.”

 

During the event the president thanked Mrs. Isabel Miranda de Wallace, President of the Stop Kidnapping Association, and Alejandro Martí García, Founder and President of Mexico SOS, who despite the tragedies that changed their lives, “Have taken a constructive and proactive attitude to turn their own experience and tragedy into a space for creating something that will allow us to improve the institutions responsible for security, procurement and administration of justice.”

 

The president said that although there has been progress in reducing several crimes plaguing our country, particularly homicides, “We are not satisfied with what we have achieved.”

 

He noted that homicides “Have seen the most significant reduction.” He added that kidnapping and extortion have also decreased, “Due to specific actions implemented to prevent this type of crime from being committed from prisons.”

 

President Peña Nieto explained that the transition to the Adversarial Criminal Justice System, “Established for the very first time victims’ rights to receive specialized legal assistance, have medical and psychological care, intervene in the investigation process and judgment, and have the damage to them repaired.”

 

“This is the desire, this is the mandate in our Constitution, under this system,” he added.

 

He said the Oral Criminal Adversarial System is designed to ensure effective justice and have much faster, more expeditious trials. He stressed that proper implementation of the new Criminal Justice System, “Is a priority issue on the national security and justice agenda. In the states and at the federal level, we are working to achieve its implementation throughout the country by June 2016 at the latest, as stipulated and mandated by our Constitution.”

 

The president added that the new National Code of Criminal Procedure is already operating at the state level in 20 states, and since last November it began operating at the federal level in the states of Puebla and Durango.

 

He stated that a National Code of Criminal Procedure ensures, “The same trial, the same procedure, the same rules governing the process undergone by any defendant and any victim. It will be homogeneous, equal and identical throughout the country, and thereby prevent the distortions created by having different rules, which the accused sometimes used to avoid justice.”

 

He said that, “The National Law of Alternative Conflict Resolution Mechanisms, passed in December and the amendment to Justice for Adolescents” are also useful.

 

President Peña Nieto said that another legal achievement for victims is the Constitutional Reform of Human Rights issues. “With this sweeping change, national legislation was brought into line with international standards in this area,” he explained.

 

He added that, “For victims, this means enforcing the rights contained in international human rights treaties.” This reform, he continued, “Also established the obligation of all authorities to prevent, investigate, sanction and redress human rights violations.”

 

He stressed that a third breakthrough in the field, announced since the beginning of the Administration, is the General Victims Law. “This legislation establishes widespread recognition of the rights of those affected by crime or violations of their human rights. It establishes the right of victims and their families to receive help, support and care from the state, and to be treated with respect and dignity,” he said.

 

“It establishes the right to know the truth about the crime they have suffered, to be informed of the criminal proceedings against their aggressors, and to have the damage to them redressed,” he said.

 

The president promised that the conclusions of this National Forum will be recorded, “And used to submit bills to Congress to enable us to improve the justice system we have today, which we are in the process of improving.” It is quite clear, he said, “That the legal systems, our laws, are perfectible. They are not exhaustive and all these forums allow us to enrich not only the initiatives to improve the legal regulations and laws of our country, but also to take action through public policies that do not pass through the Legislative Branch, but which the various federal, state and municipal authorities can implement without waiting for there to be changes in the law.”

 

He recalled that on November 27, he announced that the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE) will hold discussion forums to define a package of initiatives to improve the everyday justice, “Daily issues, which involves solving conflicts at the family, commercial and civil level, where there is the greatest demand, where society expects the bodies responsible for the enforcement and administration of justice to provide justice swiftly and expeditiously.”

 

Separate political turmoil from the area of security, demands: Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa

 

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa called for political turmoil to be separated from the fields of security and stressed that in order to progress in the fight against crime, it is necessary to advance the establishment of a single police force.

 

He said that, “If we continue with this inertia, which blocks the advancement of our country’s security across political lines, it will be very difficult. I think we must separate politics from security.”

 

On the subject of a single police force, Mancera Espinosa said: “It seems to me that if we do not move consistently from this first link, which has direct contact with crime, it will be very difficult for Mexico to change.”

 

He added that, “Only today we discussed the need for state police, who will be answerable to governors and the head of government. Let us separate the functions of the Federation from our responsibilities.

 

He said the implementation of the adversarial system requires a change of mentality, adding that each of the states that adopt this system should do so with full responsibility and put victims in their rightful place.

 

The role of victims in the new Criminal Justice System should be crucial and central: Miranda de Wallace

 

Thanking the president for his sensitivity and consideration towards her when, while he was governor of the State of Mexico, the last of her son’s kidnappers was arrested, Isabel Miranda de Wallace, President of the Stop Kidnapping Association said, “We have lost thousands of valuable Mexicans to those whose greed and ambition has made them lose the direction of the country, peace, brotherhood and respect for life.”

 

She added that, “We must strengthen institutions and the legal structure so that, through them, disputes between citizens can be settled, the innocent will be protected and no crime will go unpunished.” The role of victims in the new penal justice system, “Should be crucial and central, because we must regard ourselves as part of the process. It is essential that the procurement and administration of justice act fairly in all the resolutions and decisions made.”

 

The first proposal of the Forum is for the law to be amended to enable victims to obtain the compensation and assistance established by the General Law for Victims in a less bureaucratic fashion and work with federal institutions to inform the general public of victims’ rights and sensitize the personnel working in both the procurement and administration of justice.

 

Miranda de Wallace urged all victims to join forces to construct a better Mexico: “We cannot afford to use any form of violence, since it was precisely violence that took our loved ones away from us.” Let us reject violence and honor our dead by constructing a peaceful, safe Mexico. “Everyone, government and civil society, have a great deal to contribute to achieve this,” she said.

 

The new Criminal Justice System is a real hope for citizens and a sweeping transformation: Alejandro Martí

 

Founder and President of Mexico SOS, Alejandro Martí García, said that the new criminal justice system, “Is a real hope for citizens, a sweeping transformation to achieve the legal equality required for judicial proceedings in criminal matters; to demand that damage be redressed as soon as possible and the victim is placed in the center rather than at the end of the process.”

 

He said that, “We firmly believe in the possibility of a Mexico where corruption and impunity are history. That is the Mexico all citizens will support during your administration, so that our nation finally decides to change.”

 

He said that, “We have a great opportunity for a clean, enthusiastic Mexico, which trusts its institutions, and is a country with enormous credibility.” He said that, “Today, only today, we have the opportunity to grow in the face of adversity to achieve the Mexico we want without messianic fantasies with strong intellectual, moral and economic growth, an unambiguous formula to grow as a nation.”

 

Government and citizens, he continued, “Require an intellectual revolution of wills and aspirations to cement the growth of all citizens based on respect for the law, work, decency and love for our country.”

 

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Presidency of the Republic, Media and Communications Office, Mexico, DF, Jan. 21, 2015; translation by Presidency of the Republic

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