The Attorney General's office The Attorney General's office: lacks capacity.

Bureaucratic inertia among justice woes

Deficiencies in the Attorney General's office impede new criminal justice system

Mexico’s new accusatory criminal justice system continues to be held up by deficiencies in the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) that inhibit the prosecution of crime and consequently slow down the fight against impunity.

That’s the assessment of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), which cited bureaucratic inertia, poor institutional organization, indifference and technical limitations among the woes that plague the authorities charged with investigating crime.

The bank made the observations in a report it completed as part of the approval process for a US $100,000 IADB grant sought by the Finance Secretariat to implement projects to strengthen the new system, which came into effect in July last year. The IADB approved the funding last month.

The problems stem from shortcomings in the infrastructure, organization, command and operation of the PGR, the bank said, pointing to the agency’s limited capacities to investigate crime and an organizational framework that is ineffective in the prosecution of criminal cases.

In order to strengthen the system, the IADB said the PGR needs to overhaul its justice procurement model and devise a master plan with clearly defined strategies that will enable it to combat the scourge of crime that is plaguing the country.

The number of intentional homicides in 2017 reached 23,101 by the end of November, making this year the most violent in two decades.

The bank also said that it agreed with a report presented in the Senate earlier this year, which said that the organizational design of the PGR was not congruent with the new accusatory system and needed to be changed.

In addition, however, it warned that a change of administration in 2018 could also pose a further risk to continuity and delay the implementation of support for the system.

The IADB noted that through the Mérida Initiative — a security agreement between the United States, Mexico and Central American countries — more than US $247 million had been pledged to support Mexico in its transition to the new system.

Institutional change for its implementation is based on recommendations made by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Statistics from survey company Latinobarómetro showing high levels of impunity and a widespread lack of faith in the country’s justice system underscore the urgent necessity of implementing the system in a way that is effective in the prosecution and deterrence of crime.

Its data, included in the IADB report, show that 85% of reported crimes don’t result in a sentence while 73% of people surveyed have a high level of distrust in the nation’s courts.

In July, the system was also the subject of scathing criticism from National Security Commissioner Renato Sales, who said that it had descended into a “procedural hell” and contrary to its purpose had led to an increase in crime.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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