2000 Mexico: Criminal Justice System Reform
In 2000, the Crowley Program undertook a review of Mexico’s criminal justice system shortly before the country’s presidential elections. In partnership with the Miguel Augustin por Juarez Centro Derechos de Humanos, a Mexican human rights organization founded by Jesuits, the delegation conducted interviews and on-site observations to investigate whether Mexico’s criminal justice system met international fair trial standards and adequately safeguarded the rights of prisoners.
The mission focused on three related issues: arbitrary detention, access to counsel, and the taking and use of confessions, particularly those obtained under coercion or torture. In studying these issues, particular emphasis was placed on potential gaps in policy, on judicial independence, and on alleged intimidation of defense attorneys and human rights professionals. The Crowley Program’s Mexico mission report, “Presumed Guilty? Criminal Justice and Human Rights in Mexico” (PDF), was published in 24 Fordham Int’l L.J. 801 (2001). A Spanish version of the report, “Se Presume Culpable?” is also available.
On October 19, 2001, Ms. Digna Ochoa, a human rights lawyer with whom the Crowley Program worked in 2000, was shot dead in her office in Mexico City. The Crowley Program condemns this senseless murder and joins Amnesty International in calling for the government of Mexico to investigate further. For more information, please see Amnesty International.