01/13/12–According to a new study on rule of law in Mexico, impunity runs rampant throughout the country. Guillermo Zepeda, a professor at Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO), was stirred by the lack of response to investigations of murders in Mexico. To combat the culture of acceptance to impunity, Zepeda authored a study to measure the level of impunity for murder in Mexico. His findings were dismal were that in 2010, 80% of homicides in Mexico went unpunished without trial or conviction.
Zepeda also noted that in some homicide-heavy areas of Mexico, such as Chihuahua, Durango, Sinaloa, and Guerrero, the impunity statistics are even worse- averaging 90% impunity. Zepeda’s study redlined areas in Mexico where chances of punishment after murder are minimal because of the high per-capita amount of homicides that strain the necessary paper trail of investigation work. As local resources and police forces are stretched thin, the chances of investigations being successful drop. In Zepeda’s study, Chihuahua’s autopsy lags are blamed on overworked authorities with investigations so backed up by a constant workload that even the most basic documentation papers are not filed. Zepeda also noted that, in Chihuahua, there is a trend of murders occurring on weekends, which means documentation is further slowed.
Zepeda’s research supports the argument by many that Mexico is plagued by impunity. The former president of the National Commission on Human Rights (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH), Mireille Roccatti, publicly stated in Informador that in the case of killings by drug trafficking, the level of impunity is even greater than Zepeda’s reports. Roccatti explained that sometimes there is not even enough information to begin investigating the homicides in situattions where bodies are left where there are no witnesses, or when no single group claims the attack or murder, such as the mass murders in Veracruz and Guadalajara. Such gray area of the investigation may lead to a cold case.
Zepeda concluded his interview with Reforma arguing that high levels of impunity signify a spike in murder as there is incentive to kill if there is no retribution or criminal proceedings. Regardless if Zepeda’s statistics hold truth only in certain regions, the Mexican federal government has acknowledged a jump in homicides. According to the Mexican Attorney General’s office (Procuraduría General de la República) the first nine months of 2011 resulted in a death toll of 12,903 people killed in drug-related violence, an 11% increase from 2010. The overall homicide rate is also a debated statistic, with President Calderón publicly arguing that the Mexican homicide rate, at 16 per 100,000 inhabitants, is “lower than Colombia, Brazil, and most Central American countries”. As President Calderón settles into his final months in office, he has defended his policies as a choice that created “a legacy of enormous strength in security and justice institutions”.