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Justice is different now

In 2016, the criminal justice system in Mexico was modified to establish a presumption of innocence until proven guilty
Oral trial in a Mexican prison – Photo: Adrián Hernández/EL UNIVERSAL
10/01/2018
08:56
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Throughout the last century and until 2016, complaints regarding the Mexican justice system were about people who spent years in prison without having ever received a sentence; of those who served time and at the end were found innocent. It was said jails were full of the poor, of those who couldn't afford a good attorney or to grease the wheels of the justice system. 

In 2008, the criminal justice system was amended so eight years later we could implement a new system and leave in the past being guilty unless proven innocent or confessing under duress. How many were tortured to confess a crime they didn't commit? Hard to know.

In 2016 the new system shifted to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, which requires the accuser (police officers, attorneys, public prosecutors) to present evidence so an individual may be subjected to a criminal proceeding; that is, it is now asked that authorities investigate the facts and provide evidence to ground their charges...to avoid filling jails with alleged guilty people. Overall, a more demanding model – more professional – of law enforcement.

Now, even if there are crimes in which society claims for a guilty party to be found, it's the duty of the authorities to find them, not fabricate them.

Early Tuesday morning, a man accused of the murder of a woman in Mexico City was released. The prosecutor's office provided evidence which a judge considered were enough to issue an arrest warrant. The attorney for the defense then brought forth evidence which stated that the accused wasn't in the country at the time of the crime, and the accused was released.

That simple. It's not enough for one party to make an accusation. Local governments tend to choose the easy way and blame the justice system instead of recognizing their lack of thoroughness when investigating a crime and presenting evidence before a court.

Perhaps some miss the old “means” used to obtain confessions and the abuse of orders of preventive detention?

The goal of this new model is precisely this, protect the rights of those accused of a crime, in addition, to reinforcing the idea that jails are only places for those who have committed serious offenses or re-offenders. This is also a measure to stop ´prison overcrowding and discourage “crime schools,” which the jails of our country turned into.

The system is progressing, maybe with some details still to be modified, but one thing is certain: it is no longer useful to cover up the incompetence of authorities.

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