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Country index  >  Mexico  > campaigns

Mexico : laws but no justice

In Mexico, the criminal justice system is gravely flawed. The country’s law and enforcement agencies and judicial system do not effectively protect people from human rights abuses, and perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. These systemic deficiencies lead to arbitrary detentions, torture, fabrication of evidence and unfair trials.

Human rights activists, Martin Barrios and Felipe Arreaga were detained on the basis of politically motivated criminal charges, still commonly used against human rights defenders and political activists in several states. Elionai Santiago Sánchez and Ramiro Aragon were arrested, beaten and tortured in Oaxaca in 2006. Many people are subjected to unfair judicial proceedings. Despite these abuses, no-one has been held to account.

The explicit right to the presumption of innocence is absent in Mexico’s constitution. In practice most individuals accused of a crime are presumed guilty. Lack of access to effective defence counsel further undermines the right to a fair trial. Often the poorest and most vulnerable in society, such as indigenous peoples, suffer the most. The government and Congress must introduce reforms placing the protection of international human rights standards at the core of the public security and justice system.

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