renato sales Sales: changes urged.

New justice system is ‘procedural hell’

Security commissioner criticizes system's implementation, calls for adjustments

One year after Mexico’s new criminal justice system went into effect, National Security Commissioner Renato Sales says it has descended into a “procedural hell” that has led to an increase in crime, and that laws must be changed to fix it.


He also claimed that those responsible for running the system have failed to adequately communicate with each other and that the “absence of a common language” between authorities has contributed to the current mess.

In an interview with the newspaper Milenio, Sales maintained that his comments were not a matter of attributing blame to authorities, legislators and judges but rather aimed at uniting forces to combat the violence and criminality that is plaguing the country.

The system needs “essential adjustments,” the commissioner charged, while also stating that preparation for its introduction was inadequate, particularly highlighting that police were the last to be trained in the new system despite being the first to have to respond to criminal acts.

“Training in the new system was not uniform,” Sales argued.

“It was fragmentary and dispersed and the work was not done jointly and has resulted in a procedural hell. We are facing a problem and we must solve it.”

One adjustment Sales has suggested is introducing automatic preventative custody for people found in possession of firearms.


He attributes — at least partially — a rise in homicide numbers to allowing the release from custody of detainees who were found with guns, including military-style weapons such as Barrett and AK-47 rifles.

However, Sales also pointed to the fragmentation of cartels and in-fighting as a factor that has led to the rise in violent crime, citing internal disputes in the Sinaloa Cartel as an example.

He also mentioned uncertainty arising from changes in state and municipal governments as another factor.

The new justice system stipulates that accused individuals cannot be held in preventative prison for more than two years but Sales questioned why people who have flagrantly violated the law are not promptly charged, insinuating that judges are to blame.

“What more evidence from the prosecutor can the judge need if a person was arrested in possession of that kind of weapon. They say that it infringes on the presumption of innocence. There are no absolute rights . . . these weapons will not be used for hunting rabbits to be mounted on library walls.”

Despite pointing out what he believes to be deficiencies in the current legal framework, the commissioner stressed that he still had the utmost respect for the judiciary despite not always agreeing with its decisions.

‘High-powered rifles won’t be used for hunting rabbits’

In response to the criticism, Supreme Court President Luis María Aguilar said, “It’s not the job or responsibility of the judiciary to improve security conditions in the country because that’s the job of executive authorities.”

Fellow Supreme Court Justice José Ramón Cossío backed him up, stating that the main failures in the implementation of the system stemmed from police, specialists, prosecutors and Attorney Generals’ offices and that it was a mistake to think the system would improve just by making changes to laws.

Sales remains unconvinced and while he thinks the new system is better than the one it replaced, he says no system is perfect, but the new one could be improved by implementing the changes he proposes.

“It’s clear that somebody who carries those weapons does so to kill. Should we wait for them to kill? Carrying those weapons entails a danger that society must now allow.”

Source: Milenio (sp)

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  • Roxana

    A change from the old codified system to the common law system (like the United States, Canada and Britain) is HUGE! Various authorities were not given near enough time or training to assimilate the knowledge and practices to make it work. Common law changes every day with new precedents and new procedures to implement those precedents. Sales has a massive headache on his hands right now while the authorities, from judges to police, have not been trained enough, and have not bothered to do their homework because the work is so overwhelming. Law enforcement should have been given at least five to seven years prior to implementation along with mandatory training and learning. What a nightmare!

  • Güerito

    Mexico Justice System: Preventative Prison Isn’t the Solution to Increased Crime

    “The name itself says it all. Preventative prison doesn’t punish guilty people, but suspects, before a trial finds them guilty. This system should only be used in extreme cases. Many politicians, activists and commentators, however, are annoyed with the new accusatory criminal justice system because they say that it has shortened the list of crimes that result in preventative prison. According to them, this decision has caused an increase in crimes. In reality, it is difficult to know what the true reasons behind this increase are, but impunity and the worsening of the wars between drug trafficking groups seem to be the cause. Imprisoning innocent people will not reverse this trend.

    Why am I talking about imprisoning innocent people? Because to a large extent this is what preventative prison does, but let’s go back to the beginning. The new accusatory criminal justice system has nothing to do with preventative prison. The decision to eliminate preventative prison for a series of crimes was independent and taken for a practical reason, to reduce overcrowding in Mexican prisons, and on another ethical point, to stop punishment before judgement. This last point is the most important. The lynch culture that prevails in our country makes us think that every detainee is guilty, but in reality it is the opposite. While in other countries they investigate to detain, in Mexico, up until now we have detained to investigate. With preventative prison, you are punished first and then tried….

    Weakening the presumption of innocence will not stop the growth of crime. Punishing innocent people does not eliminate impunity, if anything, it will increase it.”

  • Dave Dietrich

    Why not simply look to the procedures already in place in other common law jurisdictions such as Canada, the United States and England. Those nations have had hundreds of years of experience with regard to pretrial detention.

  • kallen

    The guy makes sense. He took pains not to accuse anyone in particular – that tells me he’s thinking about what is best for Mexico. He should run for president: gotta be better than the clowns from the mainstream politcal parties.

    • Güerito

      He’s a PRI hack. Worst than most.

      He has no interest in helping Mexico or its citizens. He’s part of the monstrous system of impunity that plagues Mexico, holding it back from moving forward.