This Saturday, June 18, Mexico’s new accusatory criminal justice system will take effect. The new criminal justice system was originally outlined in a constitutional reform that was passed eight years ago, on June 18, 2008.
Mexico currently (until June 18) has an inquisitorial criminal justice system, in which courts actively participate in the investigation of crimes. The new system is an accusatory or adversarial system, in which government lawyers compete with defense lawyers in front of a neutral judge.
The new system will introduce oral hearings, in which victims and defendants will be able to make their arguments before a judge. There will still be no juries in Mexico. Each criminal case will be split into three stages, each presided over by a separate judge.
At a police academy graduation ceremony Thursday, Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong said that the new criminal justice system will change the face of justice in Mexico and put an end to impunity.
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa said that city government has spent three billion pesos ($159 million) on preparing for the implementation of the new system. Each of the over 80,000 Mexico City police officers has received special training for the new system.
“This is without doubt a historic moment. This is one of the most difficult tasks my government has faced,” said Mancera Espinosa. “The new system will allow us to fight corruption more effectively, even if we still won’t be able to eliminate corruption.”
In an interview with Capital Media, Executive Secretary for the Implementation of the New Criminal Justice System María de los Ángeles Fromow said that the new system is one of the most important developments in criminal justice in recent years.
“This is a system where the rights of victims and defendants alike will be respected and protected,” said De los Ángeles Fromow.
The new criminal justice system has provisions for punishments other than imprisonment. Minor crimes can be resolved through restitution and other, less severe sanctions. For example, prosecutors can defer prosecution if the defendant apologizes or cooperates with investigations into crimes that are more severe than their own.
“An important part of the new system is mediation and reconciliation,” said De los Ángeles Fromoy. “Many minor crimes can be better solved through offenders taking responsibility and providing restitution to victims. This will promote better social cohesion.”