Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Effective Institutions, not More Institutions"

Similar to Leo Zuckermann's, this take from Jan-Albert Hootsen on Calderón new federal agency is right on:
In his fifth ‘Informe’, Mexico’s equivalent of the State of the Union, President Calderón announced the creation of a new Social Attorney’s Office for Attention to Victims of Violence (Procuraduría Social de Atención a Víctimas de la Violencia). Amongst its tasks will be finding disappeared people and assisting the victim’s families.

This may sound like a good idea. Forced disappearance has become a scourge in Mexico since levels of violence, insecurity and impunity have increased dramatically during Calderón’s presidency. Last year alone an estimated 20.000 Central American migrants have disappeared on their way to the United States. Kidnapping has become big business for criminal groups in Mexico, often with brutal violence. Some gangs, such as the enigmatic La Mano con Ojos (‘The Hand with Eyes’) are almost exclusively focused on kidnapping and extortion. These are the kind of crimes that increase the perception of insecurity more than any other. The president is right to prioritize the issue.

However, it remains to be seen how founding yet another government institution can help. It is not the number of law enforcement institutions a country has, but the effectiveness of these institution that determine the success of law enforcement policy. And unfortunately Mexico is a star in the first and fails miserably in the second.

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