Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Restoration of Credibility: Reconstructing Mexico's Social Fabric

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Humberto Fernando Cantú Rivera


Mexico is entering a phase of transitional justice. This can be observed in the numerous reforms and measures that are being taken to adapt the legal system to international standards, particularly those related to human rights and criminal justice. Some examples show an increased tendency to adhere to and enforce the rule of law and human rights; to recognize the official truth of authorized misconduct that took place in the past; to punish perpetrators, and above all, to ensure victims’ rights to truth and reparation. If these tendencies continue, it could potentially lead to the restoration of public trust in the authorities and pave the way for reconciliation between society and the State. While many experiences of traditional transitional justice have taken place in post-authoritarian contexts, the convergence of the main elements used in those traditional cases lead us to suggest that these models could also apply to societies in transition, not from a particular form of government to another, but from a developing democracy into a law-abiding society. In this sense, a bottom-up approach that aims at attaining truth, reform and change will be necessary to break a cycle of impunity and develop social and government institutions that respect and enforce the rule of law and human rights.

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