The Mexican government has passed a number of new laws over the past decade to address crime.
One main problem with implementing these laws effectively is widespread corruption across the government, military, and justice system. The Mexican military, for example, is tasked with fighting cartels – but soldiers have also been known to sell weapons to them.
In 2008, the Mexican Congress approved a series of constitutional reforms affecting the criminal justice system – these reforms addressed the reality that people often are arrested and convicted for crimes they did not commit. This is partial because Mexico’s old legal system presumed all people put on trial were guilty until proven innocent – the reforms switched this norm to the U.S. model, so people are now considered innocent until proven guilty.
Over 90% of murders in Mexico from 2010 to 2016, meanwhile, remain unsolved.
The changes to the criminal justice system aim to address these issues and make several important changes. These reforms include making trials – which were typically documented only in writing – oral, making it easier for people to track court cases and leading to a rise in public monitoring of court proceedings.
The changes also mandated that three independent judges serve on all trials, to avoid the risk of a single judge aligned with drug cartels presiding over a decision.
The changes were fully implemented across all 31 states of Mexico in 2016. But these reforms have not reduced violence in Mexico. They only scratch the surface and do not address the structural issues – like misogyny and racism – at the root of violence against particularly vulnerable people, like women and Indigenous people.
Most Mexican people also do not trust their police or the criminal justice system.
University of California’s San Diego’s Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies estimates that 93.3% of crimes are not reported. Out of the small number of reported cases, arrests are made in only 11.5%.
Women, notoriously, are not acknowledged when they report that they are victims of crime, or they are reported missing by loved ones. And violent crimes against women are solved at even lower rates than other crimes.