Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN) has declared as unconstitutional the Internal Security Law (LSI), proposed by the government of Enrique Peña Nieto, asserting that Congress violated the legislative process.
The SCJN ruled that the law didn’t take into account its effects on Indigenous communities, and didn’t make a clear distinction between national security, internal security, and public security, paving the way for confusing legislation on the duties of the armed forces. The president of the court Luis Maria Aguilar, said its flaws didn’t make the law completely wrong, but called for new legislation that would provide a better legal framework for the activities of the armed forces.
Different human rights organizations expressed their concerns about the LSI as soon as it was proposed by Peña Nieto’s government, arguing it would only legalize the presence of the military in the streets, prolonging the state of violence that began when Felipe Calderon first declared the so-called “war on drugs” in 2006.
The National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) and other institutions and lawmakers challenged the law’s constitutionality, and the court ruled nine to one vote in their favor.
Jorge Mario Pardo Rebolledo was the only minister that voted against the unconstitutionality appeal, arguing that the law wasn’t really a public security matter and didn’t “empower” the armed forces. Pardo had previously proposed the elimination of seven of its 34 articles in order to approve it, providing a legal basis for the current activities of the armed forces in public security duties.
The court was divided between the ministers that believe that the Congress has jurisdiction to legislate over internal security and those who maintain that that responsibility belongs only to the president.
Pardo and Minister Margarita Luna Ramos argued that the Congress is indeed empowered to legislate on the matter. In the end, however, Luna didn’t vote due to a scheduling conflict, but declared she would vote against the LSI.
The LSI was approved by the Congress on Dec. 17, 2017, but amid heavy criticism, outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto declared he wouldn’t enforce it until the SCJN decided on its constitutionality. Peña Nieto will hand over the presidency to President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Dec. 1.
AMLO’s National Peace and Security Plan
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) and his party, the National Renewal Movement (Morena), already presented their own National Peace and Security Plan Wednesday and are planning to propose a set of constitutional reforms the following Tuesday in order to prevent a similar outcome to that of the LSI.
The plan and the constitutional reforms would set a legal framework for the armed forces to train a National Guard and remain on the streets, carrying out public security duties, such as arrests and patrolling.
“We must recognize we have a void. Their military institutions are the only ones capable of being all over the national territory at this moment. That’s why we’re aiming for a reform with no simulations and the National Guard will be the one working on public security,” said Mario Delgado, Morena’s coordinator at the House of Representatives.
Delgado argued that the proposed plan doesn’t imply the militarization of the country because there will be civilian elements in the National Guard, although decision-makers will be military officers.
AMLO will take office on Dec.1, but Morena has already taken over both legislative houses in September.