Mexico sets out justice reform that could aid U.S. cooperation

By Sharay Angulo

By Sharay Angulo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican officials on Wednesday presented lawmakers a proposal to overhaul the criminal justice system, paving the way for the Senate to take up the plan next month which could facilitate security cooperation with the United States.

According to a draft of the reform reviewed by Reuters, the plan would allow private communications to be used as evidence and limit legal challenges to avoid extradition delays for criminal suspects, many of whom are U.S.-bound.

Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz told senators the plan would attack entrenched corruption and impunity as well as the roots of criminal activity.

"This law aims for the following: preventing crime from the start, protecting daily life against the seige of common crime and its collusion with police and officials," he said. "There have been efforts over the last 20 years, generating partial responses, that never have ended up creating a real solution."

The proposal will be formally presented in early February.

A change to rules on wiretaps could make it easier to convict suspects, which has been a problem in the past, a former U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

To go into effect, the reform would need to amend several articles of the constitution, create a new federal criminal code, set out new procedures, modify an existing law that defines legal challenges, and change the legal framework of the attorney general's office and its regulations.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) and its allies control both chambers of Congress, and his proposals are typically approved.

His administration, which took office just over a year ago, is grappling to control rampant violence and impunity.


(Reporting by Sharay Angulo; Additional reporting by Dave Graham; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)