Mexico One Step Closer to Legalizing Military State

Mexican actor Diego Luna marches as he protests against a new security bill, Law of Internal Security, in Mexico City, Mexico, December 13, 2017/Photo: Reuters
Mexico One Step Closer to Legalizing Military State

A special committee within the Mexican House of Representatives approved the latest version of the controversial Internal Security Bill.

A special committee within the Mexican House of Representatives has approved the latest version of the controversial Internal Security Bill, inciting heavy criticism from national and international human rights organizations.

In a joint press release, the National Commission of Human Rights, NCHR, and the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights in Mexico, UNHCHR Mexico, said the law, if passed, is “highly worrying to the respect for human rights in Mexico.”

A slightly different version of the bill was passed by the Senate two weeks ago.

Yesterday’s House of Representative commission approved the bill with what human rights advocates are calling nine “minor” and “cosmetic” changes.

The bill would legalize, among other provisions, the president’s ability as commander in chief to order the military to perform police duties, such as conducting raids and arresting civilians.

The executive would not be required to disclose information regarding these deployments meant to “combat organized crime and terrorism” or anything else that threatens “national security.” The state can also “suspend human rights” if “society is in serious danger or conflict.” 

Essentially, the law would legalize state militarization and codify militarization of the state — something it has been doing, de facto, for the past decade.

“At the core, the modifications don’t resolve the lack of civil (society) control, transparency and accountability regarding the use of military forces to function as regular police,” said Amnesty International Mexico official Tania Reneaum.

The NCHR and UNHCHR Mexico said the changes to the bill aren’t “substantive” and that the bill shouldn’t be passed “under these conditions.” They call for “national dialogue regarding security in Mexico that doesn’t delegitimize the government, but also preserves and guarantees the people’s fundamental rights.”

Thousands of national activists under the hashtag “Seguridad Sin Guerra,” or “Security Without War,” add that the law would “perpetuate (the societal) violence it seeks to revert.”

During yesterday’s debate, National Action Party representative Fernando Torres said the bill has not been “fast tracked” and that the committee made “important changes (to the bill) after listening to diverse voices.” Institutional Revolutionary Party representative Jose Maria Tapia Franco, whose party introduced the original bill, said citizens should remain calm because the Internal Security Law “doesn’t represent a militarization” of the state. 

The full house will vote on the current bill Friday. If passed, it will return to Congress for debate.


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