Dark green indicates low impunity levels; dark orange means high levels of impunity. Dark green indicates low impunity levels; dark orange means high levels of impunity.

Impunity worse due to institutional failings

Not enough judges, police part of the problem

Impunity in Mexico has worsened over the past two years and the nation’s security and justice institutions are largely to blame, according to a new study.

The Global Index of Impunity Mexico report completed by the University of the Americas Puebla (Udlap) determined that impunity increased from a national average of 67.42 in 2016 to 69.84 in 2018.

A score of 100 is the worst possible rating and would represent total impunity for all crimes committed. According to the study, Mexico has the fourth highest levels of impunity in the world and the highest in the Americas.

The Philippines was the worst performing country overall while Croatia was the best.

México state has the highest levels of impunity, recording a rate of 80.06.

Structural problems caused by a lack of investment in the state’s institutions, a shortage of judges and a reduction in the size of the states’ police forces are all part of the problem, the report said.

Tamaulipas (78.88) and Baja California (78.08) were the second and third worst states respectively. Overall, more than half of Mexico’s states recorded impunity rates higher than the national average.

Campeche, with a rating of 45.06, is the only state considered to have a “low” impunity rating while Mexico City, at 59.54, is considered “average.”

Morelos led the way in terms of impunity reduction, recording a rate 5.84 points below its score in 2016 while Aguascalientes increased by the largest margin, its rate spiking by 7.48 points compared to 2016 figures.

Nayarit was singled out as an “atypical case because of probable alterations to its crime figures and . . . the infiltration of organized crime within its state justice system.” The Pacific coast state joins Michoacán, which has been considered an “atypical case” for the same reasons since 2016.

The report also said it is worrying that there are only 120,000 state police officers in Mexico, just over half the almost 236,000 the nation should have.

Researchers also established that while the structure of the justice system improved, its capacity to function worsened over the two-year period.

The system is facing an excessive workload that is causing it “to start to collapse in some states,” the report said.

A large part of the problem is a shortage of judges. Mexico only has 3.9 judges for every 100,000 inhabitants compared to an average of 16 in the rest of the world, and 11 states have fewer than the national average.

Of those, Puebla is the worst off with just 1.5 judges per 100,000 residents.

In contrast to the justice system, the study established that the functioning of the security system improved but its structure worsened.

The federal government is attempting to change that structure by implementing a new Internal Security Law (LSI) that would formalize the role of the military in operations to combat crime.

Udlap chancellor Luis Ernesto Derbez wrote in the report that “our country is living through a critical moment [that is the] product of the profound deterioration of the performance of security and justice institutions.”

“The Mexican state is incapable of guaranteeing basic security conditions to its citizens,” the chancelor declared.

That view is reflected in the homicide statistics for 2017, which were the worst recorded in Mexico for at least two decades.

Tamaulipas had the worst impunity rate for homicide (0.15) followed by Tabasco (2.24), Michoacán (4.64), Puebla (5.21) and Guerrero (5.39).

Derbez also called on the six presidential candidates to outline concrete measures to combat impunity during the election campaign, which will formally start at the end of this month.

“. . . Our publication offers specific facts that enable them to design a program of measures . . . to combat the violence and corruption that afflict the country today,” he wrote.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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