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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An Evaluation of Process Rights Applying the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice and U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Study of Mexican Children


The aim of this study was to analyze and compare process rights of minors applying the Beijing Rules and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and Juvenile Justice Law for minors in the (Mexico- U.S.) border state of Sonora. In order to determine what due process rights were enforced during juvenile process, a study was undertaken of the minors subject to process in January 2001. In this study, a checklist was used to determine variables regarding: the type and severity of the crime committed by the juvenile; the number and type of acts charged by the prosecuting attorney; the number of hours that the juvenile was kept under arrest before (s)he was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Council; the process in the Council; the actions of the defense attorney in the tutelary process; the existence of legal, psychological, social, and family foundations determining the initial and final resolutions; and the resolution issued by the Council. Results of this study show that under the State Juvenile Law, minors are not accorded basic procedural safeguards. Secondly, they are not afforded the care or treatment provided for by the parens patriae principle during the process, sentencing, or placement. Investigating, processing, and sentencing minors for offenses committed are all the responsibility of one organ, and any appeal must be filed to this same organ.

Thus minors are denied the essential elements for a fair and just trial. In all the reviewed cases, a defense attorney was named in the initial transcripts, but signatures and promotions were nonexistent in most of the cases. This could mean that the right to counsel was formally satisfied but practically nonexistent. Upon initial contact with the prosecuting attorney, interviews were extracted from the minors without the presence of a parent or guardian. Minors are submitted to process for committing any antisocial behavior even when it is not punishable under the state or federal criminal code.

In brief, these results show that despite the signed agreement with the United Nations, minors’ rights in this Mexican state are not respected in accordance with the U. N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Beijing Rules.

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