August 22, 2016 Print

Mexico began a new era of criminal justice reforms in 2008, but despite the progress of the past eight years the country is still struggling to provide a consistent rule of law. For the last three years, Atlas Network partner organization Centro de Investigacion para el Desarrollo, A. C. (CIDAC) has been spearheading the Proyecto Justicia (Justice Project) initiative, which tracks the progress of criminal justice reforms in Mexico.

“Despite of the fact that the criminal justice system has experienced a profound transformation after eight years of enormous institutional efforts, there are still several failures and deficiencies that remain on the institutions and represent an obstacle for people to access to quality justice,” said Maria Novoa, CIDAC research director of justice and project lead for the Justice Project. “There is still a lack of information regarding the quality of the everyday operation of the criminal justice system. Now that all the states and the Federation are operating the accusatory criminal justice system, it is time to shift the focus from the quantity of the changes into the quality of those changes, in order to be able to achieve continuous and permanent improvement.”

The Justice Project’s web platform hosts a wide array of explanatory content, including reports, videos, teaching materials, articles, and announcements of events and workshops concerning criminal justice reform. It also has active Twitter and YouTube accounts.

“For the last three years, CIDAC has developed several research projects and published some methodologies and reports regarding the progress of the implementation process of the criminal justice reform throughout the country, and the operation of the accusatory criminal justice system,” Novoa continued. “CIDAC’s work in this field has contributed in maintaining the topic in the public agenda and to provide information to the debate. Since May 2015, Proyecto Justicia’s website has had 719,832 visits. Moreover, CIDAC’s contents have supported the institutions in their own processes to consolidate the adequate operation of the accusatory criminal justice system. In particular, the federal judiciary is currently using CIDAC’s methodology to evaluate the performance (capacities and abilities) of the criminal justice system operators through the direct observation of trial hearings.”

Recent articles for the Justice Project include an examination of the unique situation of children who have committed crimes, and highlights from the specially prescribed procedures within the National Code of Criminal Procedure for indigenous people. A recent video featured on Justice Project’s website educates viewers about the resources CIDAC provides for victims of crime and their families, as they deal with the apparatus of the criminal justice system.

“The methodology that was applied to evaluate the implementation process has been updated, and we have developed the ‘Methodology of monitoring and evaluating the operation of the criminal justice system in Mexico,’” CIDAC explains (translated from Spanish). “In addition, CIDAC will look for the development of projects in order to contribute to the justice system being a priority in the national and public agenda.”