(@Chamber of Deputies)
On January 16th, after a 10-hour session, deputies from the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA in its Spanish acronym, party of the current president), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI in its Spanish acronym) and the Green Party of Mexico approved in general and in particular the constitutional reform created by the National Guard proposed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) to fight against insecurity in the country. It passed with 362 votes in favor, 119 against and four abstentions. The proposal indicates that the National Guard will have a civil command in its administration, but it will remain military in its organization and discipline. It also indicates that it will collaborate with the states, local police will be strengthened and its members will be evaluated.
It was taken to the Senate to be analyzed, discussed and eventually ratified. However, the process is taking place in the midst of strong controversy and questions to AMLO and his party, since the campaign had promised to withdraw the armed forces from the streets, an option that seems canceled or postponed.
The representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jan Jarab, expressed in a letter addressed to the Congress of the Union that the approved poposal, even with modifications, is “worrying” in three aspects: the structure of the Guard with a board of military leaders; the improper regulation of the scope of the military jurisdiction; and the provision for detainees. Members of the European Parliament, also called to reject the proposal because “during the last two governments, the strategy of militarization of public safety has resulted in alarming figures of assassinations, torture, forced disappearances and arbitrary detentions.”
Several national and international human rights organizations have expressed criticism in this regard. “The country’s Armed Forces are made for war, not for public security, and have committed very serious abuses against civilians, with widespread impunity”, Human Rights Watch said among others. In a statement, Amnesty International called for the distinction and clear separation of the functions of the civil elements and the military of the Guard and thereby permit the action of military elements only exceptionally, assessed on a case-by-case basis and subject to the limitations imposed by international law. In addition, it made it clear that military elements of the National Guard should not be allowed to participate in crime investigations or act as auxiliaries of the public prosecutor’s office.
The day after the approval, AMLO himself said he was not satisfied with the elimination of the transitory that stated that “as the National Guard develops its structure, capabilities and territorial implementation, the permanent Armed Forces will lend their collaboration for public safety.” “It will remain the same, as if it were a reissue of the Federal Police, which we already know did not work”, he said. Senator Ricardo Monreal reported that the Senate of the Republic will seek to take into account what was proposed by the Executive so that the approval of the law for the National Guard will be postponed for the regular session.
It should be noted that because this is a constitutional reform, the approval of the Chamber of Senators will be required first and then that of at least 17 state congresses.
For more information in Spanish:
Político, 19 de enero de 2019)
Político, 18 de enero de 2019)
Político, 17 de enero de 2019)
Político, 17 de enero de 2019)
Embargo, 17 de enero de 2019)
Jornada, 16 de enero de 2019)
News, 16 de enero de 2019)
For more information from SIPAZ:
National: Public Hearings to Debate the Creation of National Guard Begin (January 15th, 2019)
National: Faced with Rejection of National Guard, AMLO Proposes New Consultation (December 12th, 2018)
National: CNDH Asks SCJN to Declare Interior Security Law Unconstitutional (November 7th, 2018)