Strengthening Justice Systems in Mexico

For three years, MSI worked on the USAID-funded Programa de Apoyo para el Estado de Derecho en México or PRODERECHO project to improve the transparency and fairness with which criminal disputes are resolved and increase confidence in the rule of law

The project improved adherence to due process and increased protection of citizens’ rights. The reforms contributed to the transition of Mexico’s system from an inefficient, closed, written, inquisitorial system to a more reliable oral, adversarial one.

The end result was a more responsive criminal justice system with reduced violations of due process and increased access for the most marginalized socio-economic groups.

Many Mexicans said they viewed the previous system as corrupt, inefficient and unjust. Public support for reform helped the PRODERECHO project to realize significant gains, which included drafting and approving comprehensive criminal procedure reforms in the states of Chihuahua, Oaxaca, and Nuevo Leon. The project’s staff experts also assisted several other state legislatures in drafting similar comprehensive codes.

Training was also carried out with criminal justice officials in Chihuahua to administer the new system and coordinate the training of forensic specialists in modern forensic techniques. One outgrowth of this work has been the inauguration of a new state-of-the-art forensic science laboratory in Ciudad Juarez.

The project’s officials supported the creation of two new mediation centers in Oaxaca, with the goal of establishing 30 centers to serve almost a quarter of the state’s population.

During the three years that MSI managed the PRODERECHO project, tremendous progress was made in advancing criminal justice reform. The federal government and 31 states implemented, approved or had reviewed and considered reforming their criminal justice systems.

MSIs work on the project concluded in 2007. Today, MSI’s work continues in Mexico with a rule of law program, the third USAID-funded initiative of its kind, in support of the Merida Initiative. This initiative aims to prevent and eradicate organized crime.