Justice in Mexico presents findings from 2017 Justiciabarómetro report to a Mexican delegation

11/22/17- On Thursday, November 16, 2017 the Justice in Mexico program welcomed a delegation of Mexican law professors and experts sponsored by the U.S. State Department and hosted by the San Diego Diplomacy Council and offered a presentation of the results of the 2016 Justiciabarómetro survey of Mexican judges, prosecutors, and public defenders.

The State Department-sponsored visit was organized by the San Diego Diplomacy Council through the Global Ties network. The delegation comprised a group of twenty law professors, judges, researchers, and administrators from several institutions located in ten different states throughout the country, including law schools and graduate degree programs.

On behalf of the Justice in Mexico program, David Shirk and Octavio Rodriguez presented a  PowerPoint presentation of the results of the 2016 Justiciabarómetro survey of Mexican judges, prosecutors, and public defenders. A full list of the members of the delegation is provided below.

The Justiciabarómeter is an innovative diagnostic tool for analyzing the criminal justice sector through the eyes of the professionals who serve in key positions within the system, including judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and police.

Members of the delegation were especially interested in the research methodology and raised several questions about the findings, which generally noted the increased support among judicial sector professionals for the country’s transition to a new oral, adversarial model of criminal procedure in 2016.

Universidad Autonomá de Baja California (UABC) delegate Jorge Díaz Zazueta, who collaborated with Justice in Mexico for the implementation of the survey, noted that the Justiciabarómetro provides invaluable policy insights on the Mexican criminal justice system. Specifically, he noted, the survey results were useful in identifying areas of need for further training of judicial sector personnel in the state of Baja California.

The delegates also made several suggestions for future iterations of the survey, including the possibility of partnering with their home institutions to replicate the survey with other criminal justice sector operators in 2020. Overall, the visit provided an important opportunity to share the results of the study and allow a fruitful exchange of ideas among experts working to improve Mexico’s criminal justice system.

Justice in Mexico in Solidarity with Earthquake Victims

Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune

Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune

9/21/17- (written by Lucy Clement La Rosa) On Tuesday, September 19th, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck southern Mexico once again, about 90 miles outside of Mexico City. Currently, at least 237 people are dead and almost 2,000 people are wounded. Tuesday’s earthquake follows a magnitude 8.1 earthquake on September 7th in Oaxaca, Mexico that killed nearly 100 people. The most recent seismic event is Mexico’s deadliest earthquake since 1985.

The earthquake caused significant structural damage, destroying over 50 buildings in Mexico City alone. These buildings included schools and apartment buildings, which significantly contributed to the number of victims. Since Tuesday afternoon, rescue workers and volunteers have dedicated significant resources to locating individuals trapped under debris. Several Latin American countries, such as Panama and El Salvador, as well as the United States, Spain, Japan and Israel have dedicated man-power or technical assistance to these relief efforts.

Justice in Mexico stands in solidarity with the victims, colleagues, friends and families, affected by the earthquake. Justice in Mexico extends our sincerest gratitude and respect to the rescue workers who have responded to the crisis. We encourage you to look into any of the subsequently named charities who have launched donation funds for Mexico’s recovery; including U.S. charities, such as the International Community Foundation (ICF), Catholic Relief Services (CRS)  Project Paz and local Mexican organizations, such as, OxFam Mexico and Topos. Another notable donation opportunity was established by the Mexican Red Cross, by means of an Amazon Wish List for items essential to the organization’s relief efforts.  These links will also be displayed below.

In times of unprecedented tragedy, Justice in Mexico is heartened to see the good will and compassion behind the country’s convalescence. In the words of President Enrique Peña Nieto, “If anything distinguishes Mexicans, it is our generosity and fraternity” (Reuters).

Relief Funds

International Community Foundation. Click here to donate

Catholic Relief Services. Click here to donate

Project Paz. Click here to donate

Oxfam Mexico. Click here to donate

Topos. Click here to donate

Cruz Roja Mexicana. Click here to donate

*For general information please call CIAM 24/7 Call center: 1-855-4636-395 (24 hours)

Sources

Breen, Steve. Untitled. San Diego Union Tribune. September 20, 2017.

Trotta, Daniel and Adriana Barrera. “Mexico races to save 12-year-old girl as quake toll hits 237.” Reuters. September 21, 2017.

OASIS International Symposium Cancelled due to Earthquake

9/08/17- (written by Lucy Clement La Rosa) Following an 8.2 magnitude earthquake in southern Mexico, Justice in Mexico has cancelled the remainder of their international symposium until further notice. The symposium event is co-hosted by Justice in Mexico’s Oral Adversarial Skill-building Immersion Seminar (OASIS) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico School of Law (Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM) in Mexico City.

The earthquake, which occurred late Thursday night, was the strongest earthquake to hit Mexico in the last century. The earthquake struck in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, approximately 75 miles southwest of the town, Tres Picos. At least 26 people have died across Mexico and a tsunami warning is in effect for the southern coasts of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, and Ecuador. In order to inspect for structural damage, President Enrique Peña Nieto closed schools in both Chiapas and Mexico City.

 

Sources

Graham, Chris, et al. “Mexico hit by ‘strongest earthquake in a century’ as magnitude 8.2 tremor triggers tsunami waves.” The Telegraph. September 8, 2017.

Justice in Mexico Celebrates 15th Anniversary

8/23/17- (written by Lucy Clement La Rosa) On August 11th, Justice in Mexico commemorated 15 years of promoting bilateral cooperation between Mexico and the United States, specifically related to rule of law challenges in Mexico. The significant milestone was celebrated with a daytime seminar of several panel discussions at the University of San Diego, followed by an evening reception and award dinner.

The seminar, Justice in Mexico: An Agenda for the Future, was attended by various professional and academic individuals involved in U.S.- Mexico bilateral relations, including the UNAM Law School (Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) participants of Justice in Mexico’s third 2017 OASIS study trip. Several distinguished guests from Mexico attended the discussion sessions, including: Minister Amando Vázquez, Magistrate Alejandro Gonzalez, Magistrate Luciano Angulo, and Dr. Maria Candelaria Pelayo.

Justice in Mexico commemorated their 15th anniversary with a seminar of several panel discussions focused on rule of law challenges in Mexico.

Justice in Mexico commemorated their 15th anniversary with a seminar of several panel discussions focused on rule of law challenges in Mexico.

The panel contributors included: Dr. David Shirk, Dr. Wayne Cornelius, Dr. Max Langer, Dr. Hugo Concha, Mag. Gonzalez, Dr. Pelayo, Dr. Octavio Rodríguez, Lic. Alex Ríos, Dra. Layda Negrete, Mstra. Janice Deaton, Mstro. David Fernández, and Mstra. Susana Peña. The speakers discussed a variety of topics related to the Justice in Mexico agenda, including: the accomplishments and challenges of Justice in Mexico and the initiatives needed to strengthen judicial reforms, combat corruption, and improve legal education in Mexico.

In particular, Dr. Cornelius spoke at length of Justice in Mexico’s achievement in creating the Justiciabarómetro, a database focused on gauging the level of criminal justice reform and the perspectives of judicial officials within Mexico. Although Dr. Cornelius acknowledged that serious challenges remain in Mexico, he pointed out that the Justiciabarómetro 2016 dataset indicates an encouraging increase of favorability for the recent criminal justice reforms. Mexican magistrate of Michoacán state, Alejandro González Gómez, expounded on the remaining challenges, such as the lack of training for judges, magistrates, etc. and the low salary of Mexico’s police officers. Additionally, Maestro David Fernández Mena emphasized the important role of Mexican education institutions in strengthening criminal justice reform.

Following the seminar sessions, the participants were invited to an evening reception, followed by an award dinner. The following individuals were honored for their efforts in promoting democracy and rule of law in Mexico: Edna Jaime (founder and Director General of México Evalúa), José Ramón Cossío Díaz (Minister of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation and professor at the Mexico Autonomous Institute of Technology, ITAM), Dr. Miguel Basáñez Ebergenyi (ex-Mexican ambassador to the United States and professor at Tufts University), Dr. Denise Dresser (political analyst and professor at ITAM), and Dr. Cornelius (expert on immigration and Mexican politics).

The awarded individuals, sans Dr. Dresser who was unable to attend, led an informative dialogue moderated by Dr. Shirk. The discussion focused on Mexico’s recent establishment of an oral, adversarial criminal justice system and the dual role of judicial operators and legal education in ensuring positive progress. Namely, the panelists discussed the strategies and resources necessary to ensure the success of this judicial transition, as well as expounding on Justice in Mexico’s impact in providing trainings and workshops for judicial operatives.

Justice in Mexico extends the sincerest gratitude to their sponsors and donors for their contributions and support in making the anniversary event possible. The commemoration of Justice in Mexico’s accomplishments and the informative contribution of each individual who dedicated their time to the event inspire Justice in Mexico to continue strengthening and improving rule of law in Mexico.

Judges of Michoacán Affirm Their Commitment to Public Security

Marco Antonio Flores addressing the accusations made by Governor Silvano Aureoles. Source: Mi Morelia

Marco Antonio Flores addressing the accusations made by Governor Silvano Aureoles. Source: Mi Morelia

06/27/17 (written by Lucy Clement La Rosa)- On Monday, June 12th, Marco Antonio Flores Negrete, head of the Supreme Court of Justice in the state of Michoacán, delivered a public statement before Michoacán’s Supreme Court of Justice and various judicial officials promoting the objectives of Michoacán judicial authorities. The statement directly addressed accusatory comments of judicial negligence made by Michoacán governor, Silvano Aureoles Conejo, before the Ministry of Public Security’s (Secretarios de Seguridad Publica, SSP) National Conference on Wednesday, June 7th in Morelia, Michoacán.

At the conference, Aureoles asked judicial authorities to recognize their role in public security, strongly implying a lack of juridical vigor in the state of Michoacán. The Michoacán governor emphasized the ardent efforts of the state’s executive officials on behalf of public security. However, he argued that these efforts were in vain without the joint support of the judicial administration. Aureoles argued that executive and judicial officials were not acting with “the same velocity” against violence and organized crime in Michoacán. He pointed to judicial authorities citing insufficient evidence resulting in the release of an alleged Michoacán organized crime leader on June 7th. “This significantly discourages and disheartens the efforts made [by the SSP],” declared Aureoles (El Sol de Morelia).

In response, Supreme Court Justice Marco Flores publicly defended the judiciary and insisted that the actions of Michoacán judges and magistrates were in accordance with both federal and state legislation. He stated that Aureole’s accusations were “unfounded and unsupported” (Mi Morelia). Flores emphasized the role of the judiciary within the parameters of Mexico’s democracy, highlighting the importance of justice unhampered by political agendas. “At all times, we have respected the division of powers in the State, which is the basis of democracy that protects us from unilateral and authoritarian intentions (Mi Morelia).”

The Michoacán judiciary is fully in support of public security efforts against violence and crime, asserted Flores. However, he reminded his audience that all magistrates and judges must act within the parameters of Mexico’s constitutional rule of law. Indirectly touching upon the release of the alleged criminal mentioned by Aureoles, Flores added, “Hence, if you fail to prove, with legal, appropriate and sufficient evidence, the alleged criminal act attributed to a person…the judge is obligated to release him, because the Constitution expects and demands it.”

Aureoles’ divisive accusations elicited other responses as well. Javier Gil Oseguera, president of the Association of Judges (Asociación de Jueces de Primera Instancia), echoed Flores’ public sentiments. “Justice is given in strict adherence to the law, respecting the principles of equality (Quadratín).” Furthermore, Judge Ramón Sánchez Magaña, the judge with jurisdiction over the disputed release of the supposed criminal on June 7th, continued to endorse the decision to release the individual due to a lack of evidence.

Violence and Crime in Michoacán

The heightened tensions between executive and judicial officials on the topic of public security are set among increasing levels of violence and crime in Michoacán. As documented by the latest Justice in Mexico Drug Violence in Mexico (2017) report, Michoacán was the Mexican state with the third highest number of intentional homicides in 2016 with 1,287 homicides. This number was a significant increase from 2015 with 922 categorized as organized crime group (OCG) homicides.

Additionally, the Drug Violence in Mexico report highlights a pattern of violence in Mexico against two categories of special victims: public officials and journalists.  According to the report, Michoacán ranked as one of the deadliest states in Mexico for both public officials and journalists in 2016. This trend continued into 2017 with the abduction of Salvador Adame Pardo, a journalist from southern Michoacán. Adame has not been heard of since his abduction. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Adame had reached out to them with concerns for his safety.

Sources

Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2016.” Justice in Mexico. March 30, 2017.

Mexican journalist abducted in Michoacán state.” Committee to Protect Journalists. May 22, 2017.

Jueces deben dar la cara para que seguridad no sea “sólo por hoy.” El Sol de Morelia. June 7, 2017.

Exige respeto Supremo Tribunal de Justicia; ‘jueces dan la cara en audiencias públicas‘”: Flores.” El Sol de Morelia. June 12, 2017.

Poder judicial pide al ejecutivo se respete división de poderes y trabajo de los jueces.” Mi Morelia. June 12, 2017.

Se excedió, dicen jueces por declaración de Ejecutivo del Poder Judicial.” Quadratín. June 12, 2017.