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Rule of Law Programs in Mexico

Criminal Law Reform and Anti-Human Trafficking

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) released its Mexico Human Trafficking Assessment Tool (HTAT) report in August 2009. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of Mexico’s federal and state human trafficking laws, along with a detailed analysis of steps taken to implement those laws.

In the report, Mexico’s efforts to prevent and combat human trafficking are analyzed for compliance with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The assessment found the national legal frameworks highly compliant with this protocol while it also uncovered serious implementation deficiencies.

To encourage discussion around the report and its findings, the report was formally presented during a rollout event in Mexico City that included a panel of key government and civil society actors.

The HTAT and its results were widely discussed in the Mexican media after its release. More importantly, this coverage generated discussion about the efficacy of the government’s response to this horrific crime, which is estimated to victimize between 20,000 and 50,000 people per year in Mexico.

Judicial Reform

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) is supporting the implementation of a critical set of reforms that relate to the Mexican criminal justice system’s transition from an inquisitorial to an accusatorial system. Through judicial exchanges, ABA ROLI helps strengthen the Mexican judiciary’s capacity to adapt to and claim ownership of the ongoing reforms, as they aid in broadening the judiciary’s understanding through first-hand exposure to case management under the accusatorial system.

Both through “sister courthouse” exchanges between judges along the U.S.-Mexican border and through study tours for high-level Mexican judges, ABA ROLI has opened a direct channel of communication for judges in both countries. The initiatives allow the two sides to interact on a more personal level, to dispel long-standing misconceptions and to engage in an open dialogue on best practices in judicial administration.

Legal Education Reform and Civic Education

Supporting law schools

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) is currently supporting discussions among law school leaders and reform stakeholders on law school admissions standards. Our program encourages best practices and strives to help establish a uniform curriculum and standardized accreditation process. The proposed curriculum includes courses in substantive areas of law and clinical courses covering trial advocacy, case management, negotiation, mediation and other practical skills. ABA ROLI also facilitates professional development by coordinating meetings between law school delegates from both the United States and Mexico.

In addition, ABA ROLI is implementing the Legal Education Reform Index (LERI) to assess the current status of legal education in Mexico. Its findings will inform stakeholder dialogues, allowing the stakeholders to recommend appropriate legal education reforms to authorities.

Legal Profession Reform

Supporting bar associations

Mexico’s ongoing legal reforms require a significant revamping of the country’s legal profession and legal education regimes. To support reform efforts and to help enhance the capacity of prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) partners with local law schools, bar associations and accreditation authorities in improving legal education and legal profession practices.

ABA ROLI works with national and state bar associations to introduce continuing legal education and professional conduct standards. We also support discussions on consolidating multiple bar associations and on implementing mandatory bar association membership.

In addition, ABA ROLI is implementing its Legal Profession Reform Index (LPRI) to assess the status of legal profession in Mexico. The LPRI, which evaluates standards of practice, professional ethics and conduct, and bar associations’ governance and independence, will inform future legal profession reform efforts.