Trio ratchet up pressure on Mexico’s senate over security bill

December 5, 2017

Latin News

On 4 December, international, regional, and national human-rights bodies all expressed concern about legislation passing through Mexico’s federal congress pertaining to the role of the armed forces in domestic public security.

Significance: The concerns raised come shortly after Mexico’s federal lower chamber of congress approved an internal security bill, which would normalise the involvement of the armed forces in public security duties, and just as the senate begins debating it. The military has been on the streets for over a decade since the previous administration led by Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) opted to take the fight to organised crime in Mexico, but this has not resulted in a sustained decrease in homicides or in the operating-capacity of drug trafficking organisations in the country. Indeed, 2017 looks like going down as the most violent year on record for homicides in Mexico.

In a letter addressed to federal senators, Jan Jařab, the representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Mexico, expressed the body’s “profound concern” about the internal security bill. Jařab argued that deployment of the military in public security tasks in Mexico “has not reduced violence and has increased human rights violations”.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) released a statement urging the Mexican government to “avoid the militarisation of public security [and] adopt the necessary measures to strengthen the police”.The IACHR argued that precedent in the region, and specifically in Mexico, demonstrated that when the military participates in public security tasks it “generally goes hand-in-hand with violence and serious violations of human rights”.

Mexico’s national human rights commission (CNDH) argued that the legislation as it stands could lead to “the rights and basic liberties [of Mexicans] being infringed”. It also contended that, if approved, it would “confer extraordinary powers on the federal executive to order, in a discretionary fashion, the mobilisation of the armed forces and apply exceptional conditions to democratic life”.

Looking Ahead: The internal security bill entered the senate on 1 December and is expected to be approved at committee level this week.

Contributor Biography

Latin American Newsletters (LatinNews) was founded in London in 1967 to provide expert political, economic, and security analysis on Latin America and the Caribbean. For nearly 50 years, it has been acknowledged as the foremost authority on the region.

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