Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Mexican Supreme Court vs Law of Internal Security (Nov. 14, 2018)

Mexico's Supreme Court could annul a controversial internal security law passed last year -- codifying military participation in battling organized crime. (See briefs for Dec. 18, 2017.) Six justices have come out against the law, saying lawmakers overstepped their authority and committed procedural irregularities in the laws passage. Eight of the court's 11 magistrates would have to vote against the law in order to strike it down. The court's deliberations regarding challenges to the Internal Security Law will continue tomorrow.

Most of the judges who oppose the law have focused on its normalization of army intervention in public security when legally it is supposed to be a state of exception. Other issues include whether the law is correctly framed as internal security rather than public security, and whether Congress is permitted to legislate on the matter. Several justices said that lawmakers trod on Constitutional barriers limiting use of the armed forces in public security. 

Speaking yesterday, Justice Arturo Zaldívar emphasized the high potential for rights violations and lack of safeguards in the law. Justice Norma Piña Hernández focused on the fast-track treatment given to the bill in Congress, which gave lawmakers virtually no time to analyze the project before it was submitted to vote. Justice Eduardo Medina Mora argued that the law allows civil authorities to evade their obligation to provide public safety to citizens.

The justices are responding to several challenges to the law, coming from lawmakers, the Instituto Nacional de Transparencia, Acceso a la Información y Protección de Datos Personales, the National Human Rights Commission, the Movimiento Ciudadano Party, Cholula municipal authorities, and ombudsmen from Jalisco and Querétaro.

Should the court strike down the law, incoming president Andrés Manuel López Obrador will have to resolve what role the armed forces will play in internal security during his administration. While campaigning he promised to return the military to the barracks, but later backtracked saying the process of strengthening civil police to fulfill public security needs would be lengthy.

The law has not yet been implemented, as President Enrique Peña Nieto said he would wait for the court to weigh in first.

The law and the military's dismal track record in a decade of internal security tasks have been widely criticized. See for example this piece by Human Rights Watch's Daniel Wilkinson in El Universal.

News Briefs

  • The main migrant caravan of Central Americans crossing Mexico towards the U.S. decided to aim for the Tijuana border crossing -- a sign that even such a large group remains vulnerable to the country's criminal organizations, reports InSight Crime.
  • Many are themselves already fleeing gang extortion and violence at home, in Honduras -- The Lily profiles several.
  • The frontline of the group has already arrived in Tijuana: dozens of lesbian, gay and transgender asylum seekers who say they faced discrimination even within the caravan. A second group of 360 migrants made it to Tijuana on Tuesday morning, reports the Washington Post. (See yesterday's briefs.)
More from Mexico
  • About 40 percent of Mexico’s 204,442 prisoners were in pretrial detention as of March. The New York Times profiles the case of one man who has been held for more than 16 years without a verdict -- an example of how judicial reform a decade ago has failed to reach those imprisoned before it was implemented in 2008.
  • Investigative journalist Anabel Hernández speaks to the Guardian about her investigation into the Ayotzinapa 43, and the glamorization of cartels in certain circles.
  • Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's trial started in New York Tuesday. His lawyer told the jury that the legendary drug trafficker was merely a scapegoat for the Sinaloa cartel's true leadership, reports the Guardian. (See last Thursday's briefs.)
Transnational Crime
  • InSight Crime is presenting an international seminar on the “Evolution of Transnational Organized Crime in the Americas," which will be live-streamed tomorrow.
  • Citizen outrage at widespread political corruption in Paraguay might have an impact. President Mario Abdo Benítez seems to have told prosecutors not to spare political allies, and just a few months into his term, 10 legislators are already being investigated for graft, writes Laurence Blair in World Politics Review.
  • Colombia's ELN guerrillas have demonstrated presence in 12 separate Venezuelan states over the course of this year, reports InSight Crime. The group has encountered few obstacles in Maduro's Venezuela, and has allegedly engeged in cattle smuggling, gasoline smuggling, extortion, food distribution, radio stations, recruitment of minors, attacks on security officials, drug trafficking and illegal mining.
  • Millions have migrated to escape Venezuela's crisis, including dozens of would-be beauty queens, reports the Associated Press.
  • Peruvian opposition leader Keiko Fujimori's arrest last month is the final straw in her Popular Force party's stunningly rapid decline, reports Americas Quarterly. (See Oct. 11's post.)
  • Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro should capitalize on affinity with U.S. President Donald Trump in order to pursue a free-trade agreement between the two countries, though the obstacles are not insignificant, argue Cato Institute analysts Colin Grabow and Juan Carlos Hidalgo at Americas Quarterly.
  • On Tuesday Bolsonaro tweeted plans to appoint a retired four-star general to head the defense ministry. Fernando Azevedo e Silva is part of a group of retired generals close to the president-elect, including vice-president elect Antônio Hamilton Mourão and national security adviser, Augusto Heleno, reports the Financial Times.
  •  Bolsonaro plans to incorporate the Labor Ministry into a production ministry or citizenship ministry. (Reuters)
  • Costa Rica is a top adventure tourism destination, but critics say say the country’s regulation infrastructure has not evolved enough to ensure the safety of the increasing number of tourists participating in rafting activities. (Miami Herald)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...Latin America Daily Briefing

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