Mexico City, Mexico — Senate has approved the controversial Internal Security Law that human rights groups say risks granting excessive power to Mexican armed forces.
The armed forces, who already have a checkered past with organized crime, have been heavily criticized for their role in human rights scandals including the extrajudicial killings of gang members and the disappearance of 43 students near one of its bases in 2014.
The new Internal Security Law bill was approved by the senate on Wednesday, in what many are calling a hasty decision. The United Nations, Amnesty International and Mexican human rights organizations have all criticized the bill.
“This law should not be approved quickly, it puts liberties at risk by giving more power to the armed forces without designing controls and counterweights,” said Santiago Aguirre from the Miguel Agustin Pro Center for Human Rights.
Lawmakers who support the bill say it will set out clear rules that limit the use of soldiers to fight crime, however rights groups say it prioritizes the military’s role in fighting gangs over improving the police, and could open the door to greater abuses and impunity by the armed forces.
Representatives from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the University of Guadalajara and the Universidad Iberoamericana issued a joint statement in which they expressed their rejection of what they considered a law “that runs the risk of repeating a failed pattern of security.”
“They say they have the majority vote to approve it. They may have it inside, but they do not have it outside where they have very little support,” recriminated the PT-Morena senator, Dolores Padierna.
“This law is more serious than I have seen in my 18 years as a parliamentarian”, she said adding that this initiative means “the surrender of the State, the expression of failure” of the government in terms of security and that “it does not even point toward a solution.”