Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, this week called on Mexican legislators to back down from the proposed Law on Internal Security bill that gives the military a continuing role in policing the country, reports ReliefWeb, an online publication of the U.N.
The legislation is pending in the Senate of the Republic after being approved in the Chamber of Deputies.
“I fully recognize that Mexico faces a huge security challenge, given the violence and fear sown by powerful, organized crime groups,” he said. “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.”
Local lawyers human-rights and civil-society organizations have said the bill is dangerous because it increases the powers of the country’s army and navy, which are now policing the streets.
Zeid said the law gives the military control over local police in some instances and doesn’t provide enough oversight and control, and it doesn’t provide assurances against excessive use of force.
Zeid’s position was criticized by the leader of Institutional Revolutionary Party, Jorge Ramírez Marín; the party is the main proponent of the legislation.
“First we must remember the sovereignty of the powers in Mexico, and secondly, I doubt very much that he knows this law,” Ramírez said in a story by the Reforma newspaper.
The legislation is supported in a white paper from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.