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Mexico Background

Until recently, Mexico—like many Latin American countries—employed an inquisitorial criminal justice system inherited from the Spanish. This legacy, coupled with autocratic regimes and 71 years of single-party government, has limited judicial development and independence in Mexico. Over the past two decades, government and public support has grown for judicial reforms, as well as legal profession and legal education reforms.

Such reforms are now recognized as pressing concerns, indistinguishable from Mexico’s struggle against organized crime, human trafficking, violence and corruption. By modernizing the justice system and establishing more transparent and efficient operations, the government seeks to promote greater security for its citizens.

Recent reform efforts include the transition from an inquisitorial system, which is based largely on written statements, to an accusatorial system, which uses oral trials, promotes greater due process and grants greater responsibility to the police, prosecutors and defense attorneys. The transition has begun in many states, and preparations have begun for a similar transition at the federal level.