Report by the Open Society Justice Initiative points out the need for a functioning justice system. Report by the Open Society Justice Initiative points out the need for a functioning justice system.

Corruption a major problem. The solution: fix the justice system

New report on corruption urges international support to do so

Corruption is the common denominator in violence and impunity in Mexico, according to two criminal justice experts from an international non-governmental organization.

In an interview with the newspaper El Economista, the executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) said violence in Mexico doesn’t discriminate, and emphasized that corruption, including collusion between authorities and organized crime, is a large part of the problem.

“We see that collusion between authorities and drug cartels is a problem [that creates] economic and physical violence,” James Goldston said.

With regard to impunity, the director said that between 2000 and 2013 at least 41 state governors were accused of corruption but only 16 were investigated and just four were arrested.

A report completed by the University of the Americas Puebla determined that impunity in Mexico has worsened over the past two years and the nation’s security and justice institutions are largely to blame.

A new Open Society report entitled Corruption that kills: why Mexico needs an international mechanism to combat impunity seeks to address the growing problem.

“To properly investigate and prosecute the atrocity crimes and related acts of corruption . . . Mexico’s justice system urgently needs outside support . . . If the tide of impunity afflicting the country is ever going to turn, Mexico needs help in the form of an international justice mechanism,” the report said.

“The key to overcoming [impunity] is to fix the justice system and assure that there is accountability for these atrocities,” explained Eric Witte, the senior project manager on national trials of grave crimes for the OSJI.

Mexico implemented a new criminal justice system in 2016 but a year after it went into effect National Security Commissioner Renato Sales said it had descended into a “procedural hell” that led to an increase in crime.

In December, a report published by the Washington Post also charged that the system is in turmoil.

Witte said that Mexican people have lost confidence in the nation’s institutions, supporting his claim by citing a statistic that only 2% of crimes are reported to authorities.

He added that militarization of the nation’s security policy has led to a pattern of security forces wrongly targeting innocent young people for crimes they haven’t committed.

“A lot of the time they suspect young people of being involved [in organized crime] when they are not,” he said.

He also warned of the danger of large numbers of young Mexicans losing hope in the future of their country because of the high levels of violent crime.

Last year was Mexico’s most violent in at least two decades, with more than 29,000 homicides.

If growing insecurity is not halted, Witte said, Mexico runs the risk of seeing a mass exodus of the nation’s youth, as has occurred in other countries that have endured high levels of insecurity.

“The young people leave their country to look for a [better] future somewhere else. They lose hope in their own nation and that obviously has economic effects . . . It’s time to do something more radical to end the crisis,” he said.

Source: El Economista (sp)

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