9/11/15 (written by rkuckertz) – As Mexico continues the gradual process of implementing oral trials across the country, the state of Colima stands out as it strives to surpass federal deadlines. On September 1st, three of its municipalities—Comala, Coquimatlán, Minatitlán, and Cuauhtémoc—took steps to officially adopt the New Criminal Justice System (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, NSJP). As a part of their commitment to increasing transparency and accountability throughout the penal process, these municipalities will now hold oral trials in the presence of a judge.
In March of this year, the Federal Judiciary (Poder Judicial de la Federación, PJF), the Secretariat of the Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación, SEGOB), and the Attorney General (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) published a schedule that outlined five phases of the NSJP implementation process. The fifth phase, scheduled for completion on February 29th 2016, projected that Aguascalientes, Distrito Federal, Estado de México, Hidalgo, Morelos, Nuevo León, Quintana Roo, Tobasco, and Colima will be the final nine states to employ the oral, adversarial justice model. Given its recent advances in the implementation of NSJP, Colima is already demonstrating that it is on track to meet this deadline.
Meanwhile, concerns still exist over several Mexican states that have shown minimal progress toward federal goals. Alejandro Martí, president of Sistema de Observación para la Seguridad Ciudadana (SOS), a group dedicated to building a justice system free of impunity and corruption in Mexico, has expressed disappointment with state governments that have already implemented NSJP. In his view, government officials in these states have failed to fulfill obligations to their citizens in furthering the implementation of oral trials. He specifically spoke of Sonora as “an embarrassment”, pointing to the fact that although the state has already implemented NSJP, it had also shown no further progress in 13 months as of May this year.
Several governmental and independent agencies have published rankings that describe each state’s proximity to full implementation of NSJP. For instance, the Center for Investigation of Development (Centro de Investigación para el Desarrollo, CIDAC) published a comprehensive report at the end of 2014 that detailed the status of each state’s juridical transition. These data showed that several states had achieved remarkable progress toward full adoption of the new justice system but that the country as a whole still faced significant challenges that could halt the progression of NSJP. New data on Mexico’s recent advances will be needed in order to assess how much closer the country has come to attaining its goals over the past eight months.