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UN rights chief against proposed Mexico security legislation

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile] said [text] on Tuesday that Mexico's proposed security legislation will not assist its armed forces in combating the war on drugs.

The Law on Internal Security [text, PDF, in Spanish] was approved by the Chamber of Deputies last month. The law would allow for certain circumstances that would place police officers under the command of the armed forces. However, the law would not place restrictions of the armed forces' ability to regulate themselves, which, in the past, has led to human rights violations, such as unlawful arrests and excessive force.

According to Zeid, since the use of the armed forces to combat the prevalent drug issue in Mexico, there have been many human rights violations and abuses, such as extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances.

In 2015 Zeid spoke with Mexico authorities who assured him that use of armed forces was temporary until better-equipped police could take over. However, the law does not provide for this. Zeid said:

Adopting a new legal framework to regulate the operations of the armed forces in internal security is not the answer. The current draft law risks weakening incentives for the civilian authorities to fully assume their law enforcement roles. [T]he proposed legislation is disturbingly ambiguous, with the risk that it may be implemented extensively and in an arbitrary manner. I am convinced that rather than pursuing the adoption of this law, there should be an open and inclusive discussion about the country’s security problems and their potential solutions, with the active participation of the National Commission for Human Rights, experts and Mexican civil society.
Zeid urged the Mexican government to focus more a citizens' security approach that should compliance with international human rights standards. He also asks that the government investigate alleged violations and hold those accountability.

The law is now being considered in the Mexican Senate.

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