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NEWS

Short Update: The reopening of the courts in Mexico in times of COVID-19

FairTrialsAdmin - July 17, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates, Court closures, Remote Justice

This is a short summary of an article written by Carlos Guerrero Orozco and Ana Lorena Delgadillo. You can read the full article here (in Spanish).

The administration of justice in the days of Covid-19 has been one of the greatest challenges that Latin American countries have faced. In times of coronavirus, urgent attention to human rights violations has found obstacles at the regional level. Now, during the most critical period of the pandemic, the resumption of ordinary activities in the Judicial Powers of Latin America, and specifically in Mexico, must be aimed at guaranteeing access to an effective remedy.

On March 17, 2020 the Consejo de la Judicatura Federal (Federal Judicial Council) signed an agreement establishing the courts closure and creating “duty courts” to attend to “urgent matters.” Then on April 27, 2020 through a new agreement the Council declared the partial resumption of activities to attend to cases at the resolution stage.  Finally, on June 8, 2020 the Council agreed to dictate the integration and processing of the electronic file and the use of videoconferences for hearings and legal proceedings.

In general, countries in Latin America have pushed for the digitalization of justice, with a renewed urgency due to Covid-19, and the preventative measures of social distancing in place for individuals and workers of the judicial system. However, the implementation of a “digital justice” looks quite different from one country to the other. For example, Chile denotes a clear progression toward remote justice, an exercise that had begun long before the Covid-19 pandemic. Whereas in Colombia and Mexico, there is a need to address the digital divide of the population, as well as to prioritize vulnerable groups.

According to the authors, there are still major challenges in Mexico that must be overcome by senior officials of the Judiciary. For instance, it is necessary to facilitate the obtention of the electronic signature from judges - which opens the locks of digital justice - for the benefit of the defendants. This can also be a limitation for groups of people facing a situation of vulnerability.

Urgent training is also required for the members of the Federal Judicial Branch, as well as an increase in the capacities of judicial staff to adapt the administration of justice to the new paradigm of digitalization. The promotion and habituation of digital justice in all levels of society will also be of the greatest relevance.

The reopening of courts in Mexico and Latin America must be aimed at guaranteeing that people have access to justice as they did before Covid-19, however, digitization becomes an efficient tool for defendants to be heard in a court of law in a timely manner.

We publish information as it is reported to us. If you would like to make us aware of an inaccuracy or send us more information please email us at [email protected].  

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please call the media team on +44 (0) 7749 785 932 or email [email protected]

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