Kidnappings in Mexico up by 9 percent

The number of kidnappings in Mexico grew by 9.1 percent in the first five months of the year, according to figures published this week.

The statistics, from the anti-kidnapping branch of the attorney general’s office (Procuraduria General de la Republica, PGR, in Spanish), will serve to justify the fear currently gripping the country over insecurity and high crime levels. A march is planned at the end of the month in Mexico City to protest the rising level of crime and public insecurity.

The discovery earlier this month of the bullet-ridden body of a 14-year-old kidnap victim prompted a public outcry in Mexico as kidnappings rise and drug-related violence takes a heavy toll on the civilian population.

Read the rest of this post, written for La Plaza, here.

‘Innocent until proven guilty’ to underlie Mexican justice system

Sweeping overhauls to Mexico’s criminal trial system announced last week could bring the country into the modern world, according to the Financial Times. People suspected of crimes will be presumed innocent until proved guilty, according to the reforms backed by President Felipe Calderon.

‘For the first time – and assuming that a majority of the country’s 31 local legislatures approves the constitutional change – defendants will be presumed innocent until proved guilty. Trials will become open and more transparent, with judges and lawyers having to work in public and under the scrutiny of the media.’

amnesty.gifBut according to human rights groups, some of the elements of the reforms threaten to undermine human rights by allowing prosecutors to enforce house-arrest on suspects or to put suspects in jail before they’re charged.

Alberto Herrera, executive director of , said: “We want the judicial system to be efficient but this can mean permission to violate human rights.” Continue reading

Media independence in Mexico?

This report also appeared in Press Gazette at the end of last year:

The concept of media independence in Mexico is complex. Much of the media is financially dependent on the Government, therefore those media that are considered ‘independent’ are those that do not rely on the state for the lion’s share of their income. The concept of independence in terms of editorial objectivity is another issue, but of course the two are closely related.

Continue reading