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Mexico constitutional reforms to revolutionize judicial system

[JURIST] Mexican President Felipe Calderon [official website; BBC profile] Tuesday signed into law constitutional reforms [senate bill text, in Spanish] which provide for public and oral trials, guarantee the presumption of innocence, and guarantee suspects representation by qualified public defenders. According to a press release [text] from his office, the Calderon said the new reform "offers a transparent system of justice that respects the human rights of both victims and suspects." The legislation originally included a provision which would have allowed police to search homes without a warrant if they believed there was imminent danger to a person or if a crime was being committed, but it was eventually dropped. In late February, the bill was overwhelmingly passed by the country's lower house and was approved by the Senate [JURIST reports] in early March. AP has more.

Calderon first proposed the changes [JURIST report] to the country's constitution [text] in March 2007 in an effort to reform its criminal justice system [press release]. Earlier that month, Amnesty International had released a report [text] accusing Mexico [JURIST news archive] of having a "gravely flawed" criminal justice system in which human rights abuses are perpetuated and criminals are rarely punished. The report cited 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.

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