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Wheels of justice, turning ever so slowly

12 July 2011

With a slew of constitutional changes that strengthen human rights guarantees, the Supreme Court was FINALLY a able to rule that human rights violations by the military must be heard in regular civilian courts.  The court decision was 9 to 3, the three dissenting ministers being Salvador Aguirre, Jorge Mario Pardo y Luis María Aguila.  Minister Aguirre, is considered the most “conservative” of the court ministers (“minister” being the proper title for a Mexican judge.  He is the only one of the 11 member court whose background is in politics, rather than in the courts or as a legal scholar, having been active in his native Jalisco in the more clerical circles of PAN.  The other two ministers are both recent Calderon appointees.

On the other hand, justice reforms have stalled in Baja California, where only three percent of trials are being held under the new “oral argument” system.  What is particularly troubling is the decision by state procurador Rommel Moreno Manjares, to NOT hold oral trials for organized crime cases.  What bothers me is that this brings to mind the “special tribunals” the United States wants to use for alleged “terrorists”, which is defended by the odd logic that if they were treated as common criminal cases, there is a possibility that the person on trial might not be found guilty.  Which isn’t justice, but prejudice seeking a legalistic cover.

Not that I’m unbiased towards gangsters, mind you.  But by claiming one cannot use normal (or, in this case, reformed) legal procedures towards the worst suspected criminals, is to admit the justice system is incapable of imparting justice, or that justice can only be applied selectively.

Moreno may want to consider the history of Sicily in the 1970s and 80s, when organized crime was much worse than here in Mexico (and much more violent than anything we’ve experienced here) but the court system did manage to hold normal trials… it meant building bomb-proof courthouses, and judges and investigative magistrates were murdered along the way, but the Sicilians got to see and hear the criminals that they had been fearing for centuries as just the pathetic, loser crooks that they were… if the Sicilians learned anything, it was that protecting human rights and following procedures does not mean special rights for crooks… but equal rights for all, and that includes the human right to be tossed in the slammer for the rest of your life when you violate everyone else’s rights… something much better to know than just some “monster” has been taken away and…oh… at some point… something might or might not happen in some court… somewhere… somehow.

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