Peña Nieto’s new Ministry of the Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación, SEGOB) has included implementation of the new criminal justice system on its list of priorities for next year. According to the proposed Federal Expenditure Budget (Presupuesto de Egresos de la Federación) for 2013, SEGOB plans to strengthen the institutions in charge of furthering this goal, and will support the states’ efforts in this regard through the Technical Secretariat of the Coordinating Council for the Implementation of the Criminal Justice System (Secretaría Técnica del Consejo de Coordinación para la Implementación del Sistema de Justicia Penal, SETEC).
According to the proposal presented to Mexico’s House of Representatives (Cámara de Diputados), SEGOB is requesting about $562 million pesos (approx. $45 million USD) for criminal justice reform implementation next year, of which around 80% ($459 million pesos) will bankroll states’ efforts. This payout to the states represents an increase of almost 4% in comparison with last year, and will support state initiative efforts in areas such as training, equipment, and infrastructure.
The reforms toward the new accusatorial justice system were also included in the Peña Nieto’s Pact for Mexico (Pacto por México), an agreement signed by the president and representatives from Mexico’s major political factions at the beginning of the new administration. In addition to specifying its support for general nationwide system implementation, the Pact also encourages Federal Criminal and Criminal Procedures Code reform, which would be binding throughout the country and annul all 32 state codes.
The new administration will face multiple challenges in achieving full implementation of the new model throughout the country, including the need for state-level legislative overhauls; new training programs for judicial personnel and jurists; the national homogenization of criminal procedure law, and; stronger administrative processes. Most significantly, in order for the transition to function effectively, Mexico must find a way to change the mentality of key justice system stakeholders such as justice personnel and judges.
Potential obstacles to implementation are outlined in a document called the White Book (Libro Blanco), recently published by SETEC. One of the major accomplishments it lists for 2012 was the inaugural completion of a National Survey of the Criminal Justice System (Encuesta Nacional del Sistema de Justicia Penal, ENSIJUP-2012), which aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of indicators that measure the impact of state-level criminal justice system reforms, so as to objectively distinguish between the old and the new systems on the levels of both performance and perception. Designed by Mexican and U.S. experts working collaboratively – including Trans-Border Institute Director David Shirk, Program Coordinator Octavio Rodríguez, and Research Associate Matthew Ingram – the study consisted of 16,000 interviews conducted across Mexico’s 32 states, which generated data on indicators of the new system’s total societal impact. The results of the study were released in mid-December, and can be accessed here.