• Despite the strengths and progress in the country, institutional weaknesses, accumulated over decades, remain, eroding state capacity to fully promote the welfare of all citizens, he said.
  • To eliminate those barriers, through dialogue and agreement, Mexicans began a profound process of national transformation in late 2012,” he said.
  • The president inaugurated the 59th Annual Meeting of the International Association of Judges.
  • The President of the International Association of Judges hailed President Peña Nieto’s contribution to improving justice, which is a service for citizens rather than judges.

President Enrique Peña Nieto declared today that in the sweeping transformations that began in the country at the beginning of this administration, “One of the biggest paradigm shifts concerns the administration and enforcement of justice in Mexico”.

He said that, “Thanks in part to a free market model, trade liberalization and macroeconomic stability, Mexico has already become one of the largest, most sophisticated economies in the world, the second in Latin America, and the fifteenth worldwide”.

"We have positioned ourselves as leaders in medium- and high-technology manufacturing exports, and every year, we receive billions of dollars in investments that support an increasingly skilled and dynamic labor market”, he added.

He said that, “Despite these strengths, it is also true that two Mexicos persist in our country: one of prosperity and modernity, and another that is mired in backwardness and poverty. Moreover, institutional weaknesses, accumulated over decades, persist, erode the state’s capacity to fully promote the welfare of all citizens.

As he inaugurated the 59th Annual Meeting of the International Association of Judges, the president said that precisely to remove these barriers, “In late 2012, through dialogue and agreement, Mexicans embarked on a profound process of national transformation”.

He highlighted two changes that, “Represented a milestone in our country’s legal system: the Adversarial Criminal Justice System and the progress in Everyday Justice”.

He added that because of its depth and scope, the transformation of the Criminal Justice System will have a major impact on the country’s legal activity”. He recalled that in June of this year, “We shifted from a mixed model to one of adversarial and oral justice that guarantees the principle of publicness to increase transparency and prevent discretionality”.

He noted that in addition, “Criminal proceedings at the national level are strengthened and homologated to ensure due process and full respect for human rights, for both the victim and the accused”. In short, he said, “Today we have a single Penal Code, which applies at the state and federal level”.

“This is historic step to provide society with closer, more transparent and effective justice,” he said.

In order to give some idea of this great effort, the president noted that, “To achieve this, over 400,000 operators of the system and over 240,000 Public Security elements were trained. Likewise, prosecutors' offices across the country have had to be restructured, and over 800 oral trial rooms were set up”.

President Peña Nieto said that the second major change in Mexico’s legal system involves Everyday Justice, "demanded by workers, neighbors, mothers and fathers; the kind experienced in schools, which creates the greatest frustration when left unresolved. Everyday Justice makes a difference in the daily lives of Mexicans”.

He explained that everyday justice is different from criminal justice, “Which sometimes attracts more attention, and gets more publicity in the media”.

He said that "90 percent of cases fall outside the category of criminal justice, which we call everyday justice: family justice, commercial justice, civil justice and labor justice. They account for 90 percent of the thousands of issues that the jurisdictional branch has to solve every day”.

The president said that the reform initiatives he submitted in terms of everyday justice, “Are the result of an exercise of pluralistic, transparent dialogue, involving more than 200 experts from 26 academic institutions and representatives of civil society”.

"Foremost among the set of bills we submitted to the legislature regarding everyday justice is the structural change to our model of labor justice, suggesting that it should be the responsibility of independent courts rather than the Executive Branch as it has been to date,” he said.

He said that an important step has already been taken, “To secure the approval of this new model of labor justice, once that has been approved unanimously in the Senate; and now it will be up to the Chamber of Deputies to discuss this System of Labor Justice, which joins other processes that are part of this great package of initiatives to transform and improve what we have called everyday justice”.

He added that, “We are also proposing that civil and family proceedings be standardized, regulatory improvements be legislated on at the national level; and that a general law of civic and itinerant justice be created so that justice reaches the most isolated communities”.

He added that it is also proposed that judicial councils and the appointment of judges and magistrates throughout the country be standardized, so that they are selected on the basis of competitive examinations and merit”.

“This merely reaffirms, within the democratic vocation we have as a nation, the absolute respect for the judiciary and its full independence from the branches of government," he declared.

The president mentioned that another important area of improvement in everyday justice is in the commercial sphere. “We suggest guaranteeing the application of oral justice so that all commercial matters can be resolved quickly and transparently,” he said.

“We want to encourage most conflicts to be resolved without having to go to trial; to this end, a General Law on Alternative Means of Dispute Resolution will be passed”.

President Peña Nieto said that, "In addition to these major changes in our everyday criminal justice, there are those Mexico has promoted in transparency, open government and anti-corruption, which also contribute to strengthening our rule of law. Overall, these are the most significant and momentous modifications of the Mexican legal framework in nearly 100 years”.

The president reported that this morning, federal judge Vicente Antonio Bermúdez Zacharias was attacked and killed. After regretting what happened, he announced that he has instructed the Attorney General, “To handle this case, to undertake the corresponding investigations, and find those responsible for this regrettable event”.

THE PARADIGM SHIFTS CAN NOW BE FELT IN ALL AREAS, NOT JUST PENAL JUSTICE: EDGAR ELÍAS AZAR

Edgar Elías Azar, President of the High Court of Justice and the Judicial Council of Mexico City, and President of the National Commission of Superior Courts of Justice, asked attendees from other countries, "When they return to their judicial courts, to accurately report on the path of justice in Mexico that has been promoted by the Mexican State”.

 “Comment on our behalf,” he continued, “on the paradigmatic changes that the government has promoted in the justice system, which have not been easy or smooth but have begun to bear the fruits that provide scope for optimism and hope; and meant that the changes in Mexico can be felt in all areas, not just criminal justice but also civil, commercial and family law”.

He urged the judges of the world, “When they return to their courts, to invite their peers to see and hear our judges resolve what used to take years in a few days; and to experience our unprecedented transformation, which has only been achieved through the coordination and support of the three branches of government, which has always taken place within the framework of total, absolute legal independence”.

“I say this with great satisfaction: nothing in Mexico City have been possible without the work coordinated by the president, the mayor and the respective chambers with local and federal legislative branches,” he said, adding that the Mexican Judiciary will accompany the president in the transformation of Mexican justice”.

MEXICO IS A WONDERFUL COUNTRY THAT COMBINES INDIGENOUS TRADITIONS, HISPANIC TRADITIONS AND MODERNITY, WHICH FASCINATE VISITORS: PRESIDENT OF THE IUM

Maria Cristina Crespo Haro, President of the International Association of Judges (IAJ) thanked President Peña Nieto and the President of the National Commission of Courts of Justice in Mexico, for the excellent organization of the 59th Annual Meeting of the IAJ, “Which enabled us all to be in this stupendous city, in this stupendous country that combines indigenous traditions, Hispanic traditions and modernity, which fascinate visitors”.

She thanked President Peña Nieto, “For his contribution to the improvement of justice, since the improvement of justice is not a service for judges but for citizens who are the recipients of sentences”.

She added that in this regard, this global organization, which seeks to defend judicial independence, is convinced that judicial independence is achieved, obviously through a good infrastructure, with legislative instruments, but also though trained judges”.

She explained that the IAJ, “Brings together associations of judges from 84 countries. The only requirement for admission to our organization is the existence of an association of judges working for judicial independence in the broadest sense”.

She explained that during the Annual Meeting, they will deal with critical issues to defend and support colleagues in different parts of the world, and to, “Address the situations that the various associations of judges bring to this General Assembly which, in the jargon of the International Association of Judges, we call the Central Council”.

THE SEPARATION OF POWERS IS INCLUDED IN THE CONSTITUTIONS IN MOST OF THE WORLD: INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF JUDGES

Giacomo Oberto, Secretary General of the International Association of Judges, said that nowadays, in most countries, the separation of powers has been included in their constitutions, resolutions and declarations.

“However, if we consider the practice of law in many European and non-European countries, we must recognize that the teachings that have been provided are more similar to those of Napoleon than those of Montesquieu,” he added.

 “There is a tendency at the legislative level to organize the judiciary in a pyramidal structure that is more like an army, rather than a group of bodies that have the duty to perform the same type of activity, which, at the end of the day, means providing justice in an independent, autonomous way,” he said.

The Secretary General of the IAJ reported on the important activities performed by this International Association.

He expressed concern about attacks on the independence of the judiciary in many parts of the world, highlighting the case of Turkey.