Children Who Flee Violence in Central America Face Dangers in Mexico

To raise awareness, especially in Mexico, about the vulnerability of Central American migrants and the threats that they are fleeing, WOLA has released a series of videos featuring Central American youth who escaped north. The young women describe the dangers they left behind, the risks of traveling through Mexico, the crimes they were victims of in Mexico, and their experiences being deported from Mexico.

For details and full access to the video Children Who Flee Violence in Central America Face Dangers in Mexico, kindly follow the link.



Citizen Security in Central America: Root Causes and New Approaches

In December, the U.S. Congress approved a big increase in aid to Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries – El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The US$750 million seeks to address the so-called “root causes” of violence that is now so severe that over 111,000 children from these three countries were apprehended in the United States or Mexico, while traveling unaccompanied, just between June 2014 and December 2015.

In this podcast by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the hosts look at the causes of Central America’s insecurity crisis and how the United States has chosen to respond. They look at some of the concerns in Congress and elsewhere about political will, corruption, and human rights, and discuss strategies that can help Central Americans feel safer where they live—without repeating the ineffective and military-heavy approaches of the past.

They are joined by:

  • Geoff Thale, WOLA’s Program Director;
  • Adriana Beltrán, WOLA’s Senior Associate for Citizen Security;
  • José Luis Sanz of El Salvador’s El Faro ; and
  • Héctor Silva Avalos of American University.

For full access to the podcast about Citizen Security in Central America: Root Causes and New Approaches, kindly follow the link.


Les enjeux internationaux: le Mexique

L'arrivée au pouvoir d'Andrés-Manuel Lopez Obrador devait marquer un bouleversement, la "quatrième transformation" de l'histoire du Mexique. Mais un an après le compte n'y est pas pour les ONG qui demandent plus d'ambition dans les politiques de lutte contre la violence qui ravage le pays.


Documents de recherche et de stratégie

Supporting Criminal Justice System Reform in Mexico: The US Role

This report gives an overview of Mexico’s 2008 judicial reforms and looks at the extent to which these reforms have been implemented. It then analyzes US support for the reforms and raises issues for Congress to consider as it oversees current US justice sector programs and considers future support to Mexico.

To view this article, please follow this link.


The Impact of Reform on the Criminal Justice System in Mexico

This working paper paper studies the impact of judicial reform in Mexico. It does so using a survey about crime victimisation and perceptions of insecurity (Encuesta Nacional Sobre la Inseguridad, ENSI) from 2005, 2008, and 2009 in eleven Mexican cities, three of which implemented the reform in 2007 and 2008. It shows judicial reform reduces victimisation but also lowers perceptions of security. These results are robust when considering other subsamples that include only northern cities. In the northern cities, judicial reform is associated with lower trust and lower grades given to the local and preventive federal police. Judicial reform is associated with better grades for the agents of the Public Prosecution Office, although not in Juarez. Judicial reform is also associated with a decrease in bribery of the transit police in northern cities.

Using crime level data, we find a significant increase in crime reporting following judicial reform in Chihuahua but a decrease in Juarez. When considering the full sample, we also find that judicial reform is associated with an increase in the probability that the Public Prosecution Office will investigate reported crimes. Nonetheless, this result holds when only Juarez is considered as the treatment city for the different subsamples evaluated.

To view this publication, please follow this link.


What Works in Reducing Community Violence: Spotlight on Central America and Mexico

The Wilson Center’s Latin American Program is pleased to launch an innovative report from Harvard’s Kennedy School that identifies promising strategies for reducing community violence and suggests how evidenced-informed policy options might be adapted to high violence areas in Mexico and Central America. 

For full access to the report on What Works in Reducing Community Violence: Spotlight on Central America and Mexico, kindly follow the link. 


Mexico's Reforms and the Prospects for Growth


Over the course of the last 30 years, Mexico has diversified its commercial and industrial policies. Greater emphasis has been placed on liberalisation, openness, and increasing the role of the private sector in the economy. 

Between 2012 and 2014, an extraordinary set of structural reforms were approved by the Mexican Congress. The reforms were founded on a strong political consensus regarding the need for change.

The recent comprehensive reform agenda was propelled by a political mechanism negotiated by the Federal Government. It is divided into 5 categories (democratic governance; transparency, accountability, and the fight against corruption; rights and liberties; security and justice; economic growth, employment, and competitiveness) and focuses on 95 initiatives.

Mexico is now in a highly complicated phase: implementation. The great challenge for the country is to translate changes in the law into actionable public policies with clear results for the majority of the population.

The major challenges for the implementation of the reforms will be the fight against inertia, corruption, inefficient and excessive bureaucracy, low labour productivity, and low confidence in authorities. On the positive side, the country has an important demographic dividend, abundant natural resources, and a diversified production base, which could be the drivers that translate the reforms into a stable and higher rate of economic growth. Thus, the main task is to translate the successful approval process of the reforms into an equally successful process of implementation.

For full access to the paper on Mexico's Reforms and the Prospects for Growth, kindly follow the link.


Addressing Mexico’s Human Rights and Security Situation - 2016 Review

The past decade in Mexico—marked by the start of the “war on drugs”—has been fraught with alarming levels of violence and crime and a dramatic increase in human rights violations by Mexican security forces. As 2016 comes to a close, it’s clear that this year has been no different: homicide numbers are on the rise and the government has been unwilling or unable to curtail the impunity that prevails for human rights violations, enabling abuses to continue largely unabated.

Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto began his six-year term in December 2012 and promised a new security strategy and a fundamental focus on “transforming into reality the human rights enshrined in the Constitution.” By 2014, high-profile scandals such as Casa Blanca and the case of the 43 forcibly disappeared students in Guerrero shifted attention back to the government’s failure to effectively address insecurity, corruption, and human rights abuses.

According to the most recent government survey on public perceptions of victimization and public security conducted by Mexico’s National Institute for Statistics and Geography (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, INEGI), 59 percent of Mexicans believe insecurity is the most important issue facing the country. That same survey revealed that 72 percent of Mexicans believe the state in which they live is dangerous due to crime. 

For full access to the report Addressing Mexico’s Human Rights and Security Situation - 2016 Review, kindly follow the link.


Mexico’s New Criminal Justice System

The Mexican government has called its transition to the new adversarial, oral-based criminal justice system a “mission accomplished.” However, according to a new WOLA report, much remains to be done for Mexico to enjoy a system that holds perpetrators accountable for crimes while ensuring respect for human rights.

For full access to the report Mexico’s New Criminal Justice System, kindly follow the link.


Autres documents

How to Reduce Violence in Guerrero

Guerrero is one of the most violent and dangerous states in Mexico. According to the last data published by the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP), Guerrero had the second-highest rate of intentional homicide in the country for 2014, with 1,394 intentional homicides taking place between January and November of 2014. Guerrero's crime rate for 2013 is a matter of great concern, especially when taking non-reported crimes into account. Specifically, the 2014 ENVIPE survey estimates that 1,198,471 crimes took place in 2013, with 26 percent of Guerrero's inhabitants being victims of crime at least once. The state's dangerous conditions are adversely affecting inhabitant's safety: 78.9 percent of persons residing in Guerrero feel unsafe living there. One of the most pressing issues for the state's security situation may very well be that the authorities responsible for law enforcement are part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Full article available here:

Other Document

Disappeared: Justice Denied in Mexico’s Guerrero State

Latin America Report N°55, 23 October 2015 

Horrific, unpunished human rights violations have blurred the lines between politics, government and crime in Mexico’s south-western Guerrero state. Drug gangs not only control the illegal heroin industry and prey on ordinary citizens through kidnapping and extortion, but have also penetrated, paralysed or intimidated institutions obligated to uphold democracy and rule of law. The disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teaching college in September 2014 by police allegedly acting in league with gangsters was no anomaly. To break the cycle of violence, ensure justice for the disappeared and bring rule of law to an impoverished, turbulent region, the federal government must give prosecution of unsolved disappearances and other major human rights violations in Guerrero to an independent special prosecutor backed by an international investigative commission empowered to actively participate in the proceedings.

For this report, Crisis Group interviewed dozens of victims, business people, activists, journalists and government officials in the cities of Iguala, Chilpancingo and Chilapa during eight visits to the state from October 2014 through August 2015. It also spoke with activists, analysts and federal officials in Mexico City. The focus of this study is the fight against impunity as a necessary part of security and justice reform, particularly in a state that has suffered some of the country’s most severe human rights violations.

See full report of Disappeared: Justice Denied in Mexico’s Guerrero State

Other Document

Broadening Constituencies for Transitional Justice and Elevating the Focus on Historical Grievance

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) hosted a meeting entitled “Broadening Constituencies for Transitional Justice + Elevating the Focus on Historical Grievance: Step One” in Mexico City, Mexico, in December 2015. Supported by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Oak Foundation, the meeting brought together 30 leading experts on transitional justice (TJ), as well as representatives from development agencies and foreign ministries, to discuss strategies for addressing shortfalls in the international community’s approach to TJ. The meeting was grounded in the recognition that the way in which countries deal with violent episodes from their past can emerge as a driver of future conflict and undermine development and democratization.

This report on transitional justice and the focus on historical grievance by Shannon N. Green from the CSIS highlights the main findings and recommendations from the meeting for elevating TJ and broadening constituencies for justice.

For full access to the report on Broadening Constituencies for Transitional Justice and Elevating the Focus on Historical Grievance, kindly follow the link.

Other Document

Decentralisation of Security Governance: Facilitator of a Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) to SSR?

The UN Common Understanding of a HRBA among UN Agencies (2003) was designed to provide guidance to UN mandates on incorporating human rights standards, norms and principles into all programming support components. The third paper from the HRBA Working Group from ISSAT’s Methodology Cell highlights the need for further study on Decentralisation of Security Governance (DSG) by providing brief examples of how Local Security Councils (LSCs), mechanisms of DSG, can help turn the principles of inclusivity, local ownership, accountability and participation into actionable outcomes in line with a HRBA.

Read Paper 1: Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach to SSR

 & Paper 2: Interpreting International Norms for a More Impactful Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in SSR

For further information on the Working Group's research, please refer to the Rethinking a Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) in Security Sector Reform blog

Other Document