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Mexican criminal justice system 'gravely flawed': Amnesty

[JURIST] Amnesty International [advocacy website] accused Mexico [JURIST news archive] in a report [text] released Wednesday of having a "gravely flawed" criminal justice system in which human rights abuses are perpetuated and criminals are rarely punished. The report cites evidence of arbitrary detentions, torture, fabrication of evidence and unfair trials and claims that the victims are often indigenous Mexicans, the poor, women and children. Inherent in the flawed criminal justice system, the report concludes, is a a lack of trust in police officers, judges and lawyers. One of the greatest concerns [press release] is that "the explicit right to the presumption of innocence is absent in Mexico's constitution. In practice most individuals accused of a crime are presumed guilty. Lack of access to effective defence counsel further undermines the right to a fair trial."

Amnesty International met with representatives of Mexico's government Wednesday and has called on Mexican President Felipe Calderon [official website, English version; BBC profile] to introduce reforms in order to address the deficiencies in the criminal justice system. The human rights organization made recommendations for specific reforms to be made in the areas of "international human rights standards; public security and the criminal justice system; accountability; human rights defenders and rights of victims." The report comes in the midst of surge of violence and killings in Mexico that includes murders, kidnappings and assassinations. CBC News has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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