At the end of a 15-day fact-finding mission to Mexico, Special UN Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul said that "the strengthening of the Rule of Law and an effective fight against violence will only be possible if the justice system in its entirety is strong and independent."
In a press report issued on 15 October Ms Knaul noted that the 2008 constitutional reform of the criminal justice system could constitute a major step forward in improving the procurement, access to, and administration of justice in the country. "This reform contains important elements to guarantee the rights of all those who have contact with the criminal justice system".
During her mission from 1 to 15 October, Ms Knaul analysed the level of independence of the judiciary in Mexico, the independence and impartiality of magistrates, judges and lawyers. She also focussed on the level of public access to the justice system and the autonomy of the public prosecutors.
The UN expert met with magistrates of the Supreme Justice Tribunals and members of the States Human Rights Commissions. She held meetings with associations of magistrates and judges and bar associations, as well as with academics and international and non-governmental organisations.
Ms Knaul underlined that "military justice in Mexico should be reformed so as not to be competent to hear cases of human rights violations or cases wherein the victims are civilians."
The UN expert also pointed to the lack of access to justice for many Mexicans, especially those who live in poverty, the indigenous population, those who inhabit rural and remote areas, women, and migrants".
"It is also necessary to strengthen and enhance the qualifications of the legal profession," according to Ms Knaul. "Compulsory licensing, as well as uniform regulatory criteria for the exercise of the profession, are necessary in order to guarantee access to professional, qualified legal representation."
The final conclusions and recommendations regarding this visit to Mexico will be presented in the Special Rapporteur's next report to the Human Rights Council in June next year.