Some 90 percent of people arrested during Felipe Calderon’s first five years as president of Mexico went free, according to the UN.
Raul Benitez Manaut, a consultant for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), stated that of the 500,000 people arrested in Mexico since Calderon came to power in late 2006, around 450,000 were later freed, reported Proceso.
Benitez attributed the high rate of impunity to Mexico’s inquisitorial system of justice — where the accused is presumed guilty — high levels of corruption among state officials, and inefficient investigating agencies with poorly integrated records.
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Mexico is currently in the process of reforming its judicial system, breaking from the archaic inquisitorial system to a more modern adversarial one where innocence is presumed rather than guilt, and trials are made more open to the public.
In 2008, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) put the impunity rate as high as 99 percent.
While Calderon’s administration has launched a heavily militarized assault on drug gangs, using the armed forces to apprehend suspects, the lack of similar emphasis on the judicial side means that impunity remains the Achilles Heel of his anti-drug trafficking drive.