By Enrique Peña Nieto.
Thanks to the joint commitment of society and government, Mexicans have achieved the most significant transformation of the legal system of the past hundred years. In the second half of the 20th century, our criminal justice system began to show signs of exhaustion, exacerbated over the past decade by the increasing violence and insecurity. As a result, civil society raised its voice to demand a fundamental change. They showed the authorities of the three branches, and the three levels of government that it was not possible to overcome the challenges of the new century with the laws, mechanisms and procedures of the past.
Today, with the full implementation of the Adversarial Criminal Justice System (SJPA), we have taken a decisive step towards closer, more transparent and effective justice.
This is the result of the joint work of civil society, academics, legislators, judges and government officials. To implement the new system, standards and laws were changed, hundreds of thousands of public servants were trained and new facilities were restructured, created and equipped.
Through this sum of efforts, one of the most ambitious legal reforms in the history of Latin America was consolidated.
Although the constitutional reform established by the SJPA dates from 2008, since the beginning of this administration, we have assumed the responsibility of complying with the mandate to complete the transition on 18 June 2016. To achieve this, we redoubled our efforts and invested over 18 billion pesos in three and a half years, nearly 90% of the 21 billion pesos spent throughout the implementation of SJPA.
· From now onwards, 100% of the trials throughout the country will be oral. Moreover, a video record of each hearing will be kept, in order to guarantee transparency and due process. One of the most important changes is that the SJPA favors conciliation and alternative methods of justice over the imposition of the deprivation of freedom.
Although the SJPA needs to consolidate to fully achieve its objectives, its benefits are beginning to be visible. For example, in the states where it already has been operating, criminal proceedings take a fifth of the time to resolve and their costs are up to 10 times lower.
Moreover, the number of people in custody has decreased, thanks to alternative justice mechanisms and the application of precautionary measures.
This undoubtedly marks a new stage, where all the actors involved will continue to work closely in the monitoring and ongoing evaluation of the SJPA. We will do this through a mechanism of coordination and collaboration, with permanent respect for the exclusive powers of each branch and level of government.
The justice system is a living system, which is constantly changing and has evolved to meet the challenges of our time. Today, organized society and government have the task of ensuring that Mexicans feel the tangible benefits of SJPA in their everyday lives. We must work to achieve optimal levels of performance and reliability.
Universities and research centers must finish updating their curricula; and bar associations must consolidate the adaptation of their protocols. For our part, in the government, we are committed to continue working to change behaviors and habits in our security and law enforcement agencies so that they become an active part of this great structural transformation.
Today, Mexicans can say with satisfaction that we are building the foundations for prompt, expeditious justice for everyone. To this end, I respectfully urge Civil Society Organizations, the legislative and judicial branches, as well as local governments, to maintain our commitment to criminal justice as a national priority. Let us make the Adversarial Criminal Justice System an emblem of a country committed to legality and the rule of law for all Mexican families.
Text published in El Universal newspaper.