Tuesday Seminar on Latin American Studies


Tuesday, November 12, 2019, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, Room S250

"Torture as a method of criminal prosecution: Democratization, Criminal Justice Reform, and the Mexican Drug War"


Beatriz Magaloni, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University.


Fernando Bizzarro, PhD candidate, Department of Government; Graduate Student Associate, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University.


Jillian Scales


A criminal trial is likely the most significant interaction a citizen will ever have with the state; its conduct and adherence to norms of fairness bear directly on the quality of government, extent of democratic consolidation, and human rights. While theories of repression tend to focus on the political incentives to transgress against human rights, we examine a case in which the institutionalization of such violations follows an organizational logic rather than the political logic of regime survival or consolidation. We exploit a survey of the Mexican prison population and the implementation of reforms of the justice system to assess how reforms to criminal procedure reduce torture. We demonstrate that democratization produced a temporary decline in torture which then increased with the onset of the Drug War and militarization of security. Results show that democracy alone is insufficient to restrain torture unless it is accompanied by institutionalized protections.

Beatriz Magaloni is a Professor in the Department of Political Science, Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and affiliated faculty at the Center on Global Poverty and Development at Stanford University. 

The Tuesday Seminar Series is a bring your own brown bag lunch series. Please feel free to enjoy your lunch at the lecture, drinks will be provided.