A scene from a Mexican prison

Those who fit the profile of a typical criminal in Mexico -- poor male youths with little schooling -- are more likely to be rushed through Mexico's justice system without a fair trial, according to the findings of a new report.

The five-part report, released by the national anti-discrimination council Conapred in collaboration with social science research center CIDE, looks at discrimination in several areas of public life in Mexico, from the workplace to health and nutrition.

In its section on the justice system, the report states that because the police and the Public Ministry have quotas to meet in terms of number of arrests made and the number of cases resolved, authorities are under pressure to act without following due process.

As a result, the criminal justice system heavily favors Mexico's wealthier populations, and those without the funds to hire a private lawyer are significantly disadvantaged, Conapred finds. Seven out of 10 of those sentenced report never having met with a public defender. Unsurprisingly, the majority of Mexico's prison population is made up of males between the ages of 18 to 34 with no more than a primary school education.

Overall, Mexico's justice system "detains, processes, and punishes those who have less: less income, less education, and fewer social contacts," the report concludes. 

The president of Conapred said that the organization had prepared a briefing for Congress on ways to strengthen Mexico's legal system and make it less vulnerable to discriminatory practices.

InSight Crime Analysis

Conapred's report highlights a well-documented problem in Mexico: the majority of the population cannot expect to be treated in accord with due process in the justice system. A report released earlier this year by CIDE found that, among inmates jailed for drug crimes, 92 percent said they never saw an arrest warrant, while another 51 percent said they received no advice from their lawyers.

Part of the problem is the burdensome caseload faced by many public defenders, although Mexico has made some effort to tackle this. A three-year, $6 million project under the Merida Initiative is aimed at increasing the amount of training that public defenders receive. 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...