Chiapas: State congress approves initiative on “legitimate use of force”

Congreso local (@Gobierno del estado de Chiapas)

Chiapas state congress (@Chiapas state government)

On 15 May, the state congress of Chiapas approved the initiative presented by governor Manuel Velasco regarding the Code for the legitimate use of public force with 26 votes in favor, four in favor, and one abstention.  It will regulate the responses that security forces can make against social protests and possible disturbances, as well as the use of less-lethal weapons to disperse violent protests.

This reform has been considered by human-rights defenders and legislators in opposition as “yet another regression in terms of human rights” in Chiapas.  The new Code considers a protest to be violent when a group of people is armed, if a threat is made to intimidate or obligate someone else to do something they desire, or if there is incitement to commit a crime or disturb the peace and citizens’ security.  In case of peaceful mobilizations the Code will allow preventive police operations to supposedly protect the rights of bystanders in case the protest becomes violent.

In the Congress, Hortensia Zúñiga (PRD) denounced that the reform would “silence the protests and limit the freedom of expression that citizens have to request that the authorities observe their commitments to generate better living conditions for the governed.  This seeks to criminalize social protest and regulate marches and mobilizations.  Hence, to vote in favor of its terms would be to give the State yet more reason to continue with impunity.”

Interviewed in the media, human-rights defender Miguel Ángel de los Santos Cruz said that “in reality, the Code initiative seeks to legalize the abuses already committed by police and to increase the legal grounds on which they can violate our rights within the context of public mobilizations.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Aprueban diputados ley que “criminaliza la protesta” en Chiapas(Proceso, 15 de mayo de 2014)

Aprueba el Congreso de Chiapas el uso de la fuerza contra protestas (La Jornada, 16 de mayo de 2014)

Aprueban uso legítimo de la Fuerza Pública (Cuarto Poder, 16 de mayo de 2014)

Aprueba Congreso el Código de Uso Legítimo de la Fuerza Pública, uso de Armas y control de manifestaciones (Chiapas Paralelo, 16 de mayo de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National: Creation of the Front for Freedom of Expression and Social Protest (26 April 2014)

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