Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2009


From the introduction:

Mexico is in a state of siege. In recent years, organized crime and drug-related violence have escalated dramatically, taking innocent lives and leaving the country mired in bloodshed. The Mexican government, under the leadership of President Felipe Calderón, has responded in part by significantly extending the reach of its security operations, deploying thousands of federal police officers and military troops to combat the activities of drug cartels, and collaborating with the United States on an extensive regional security plan known as the Mérida Initiative. In the midst of the security crisis, however, the government has somewhat paradoxically adopted judicial reforms that protect human rights and civil liberties rather than erode them, specifically the presumption of innocence standard in criminal proceedings and the implementation of oral trials. Assuming that the new laws on the books will be applied in practice, these reforms represent an important commitment on the part of the government to uphold human rights and civil liberties. This is in stark contrast to the infamous judicial reforms in Colombia—the institutionalization of anonymous or “faceless” prosecutions in special courts—implemented after a surge in leftist and cartel brutality, and the murders of several prominent public and judicial officials in the 1980s.