The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called on lawmakers to reject the controversial Internal Security Law (LSI) yesterday, describing the legislation that would enshrine the role of the military in law enforcement as “deeply worrying.”
A draft of the bill sponsored by the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) passed the lower house of Congress on November 30 and is now being considered by the Senate.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein cited the ineffectiveness of the militarized security strategy first implemented by former president Felipe Calderón in 2006 and human rights abuses that followed as reasons why the bill should not be passed.
“I fully recognize that Mexico faces a huge security challenge, given the violence and fear sown by powerful, organized crime groups. But more than a decade after the armed forces were deployed in the so-called war on drugs, violence has not abated and many human rights violations and abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances, continue to be committed by various state and non-state actors,” he said via a press release.
Zeid’s rejection of the draft legislation coincided with the publication of a report yesterday by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), which detailed the arbitrary detention of four people by soldiers in Jalisco last year during an allegedly illegal raid.
On its website, the CNDH said that three of the four were tortured and sexually abused and soldiers killed two of them by breaking their necks.
The army has also been questioned about its role in the disappearance of 43 rural teaching students in Iguala, Guerrero, and a massacre that left 22 dead in Tlatlaya, México state. Both incidents occurred in 2014.
Zeid suggested that the LSI could lead to more questionable military conduct, arguing that “the proposed legislation is disturbingly ambiguous, with the risk that it may be implemented extensively and in an arbitrary manner.”
Critics of the proposal, including opposition political parties and various human rights groups, argue that it would also lead to the indefinite militarization of the country and take away the incentive to strengthen the country’s police forces.
Zeid echoed the latter concern, saying that “the current draft law risks weakening incentives for the civilian authorities to fully assume their law enforcement roles” and called instead for an “open and inclusive discussion about the country’s security problems and their potential solutions.”
The CNDH, experts and Mexican civil society should all be involved in the process, he said.
The high commissioner also recalled that during a visit to Mexico in 2015, authorities had assured him that the armed forces would be gradually replaced by stronger and better trained police forces but expressed concern that the LSI bill does not refer in detail to that goal or contain a strategy to withdraw the military from a law enforcement role.
Zeid said that the Mexican office of the commission he heads has sent a letter to the Senate detailing the concerns and urging senators not to pass the bill, and also reiterated that the same office is ready to provide assistance aimed at strengthening the capacities of civilian forces in order to better face the nation’s security challenges.
Members of the federal government have defended the proposed law. National Security Commissioner Renato Sales said last week that accusations that the LSI is designed to militarize the country are “absurd.”
Source: Milenio (sp)