Press Release

IACHR Expresses Concern regarding Draft Law on Internal Security in Mexico

December 4, 2017

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Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern regarding draft legislation on internal security in Mexico, which includes provisions that are contrary to human rights standards. According to information the Commission has received, this bill would result in the normalization, regulation, and permanence of the armed forces in public security tasks.

In the region, and specifically in Mexico, experience shows that the involvement of the armed forces in domestic security tasks generally goes hand in hand with violence and serious violations of human rights. In its visit to Mexico in 2015, the Commission confirmed with concern the involvement of the armed forces in citizen security activities and increased human rights violations as a result, including cases of extrajudicial executions, torture, and forced disappearances, as well as higher levels of impunity. The prevailing impunity for agents of the armed forces involved in cases of human rights violations heightens the Commission’s concern.

On many occasions, the Commission has stressed that it is essential to make a clear and precise separation between internal security as a function for the police and national defense as a function for the armed forces, since these are two substantially different institutions in terms of the purposes for which they were created and in terms of their training and preparation. The distinction between the functions of the armed forces, which are limited to defending national sovereignty, and the functions of the police, which has exclusive responsibility for citizen security, is an essential premise that cannot be ignored when devising and implementing such public policy.

The Commission reiterates that the obligations undertaken by States demand public policies on security and the fight against crime that prioritize the functioning of an efficient institutional structure. This structure must guarantee the population the effective exercise of human rights with regard to prevention and control of violence and crime, including organized crime. In this regard, it is imperative for the Mexican State to reaffirm its commitment to human rights, taking into account the recommendations and appeals from civil society organizations, the National Human Rights Commission, and international bodies. The State should avoid the militarization of public security, adopt the necessary measures to strengthen the police, and guarantee a justice system that is autonomous and independent.

The IACHR reiterates the recommendation it made to Mexico in its report on the human rights situation in the country, to “develop a concrete plan for the gradual withdrawal of the Armed Forces from public security tasks and for the recovery of such tasks by the civilian police force,” while strengthening the capacity of the police to carry out public security tasks.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the respect for and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 200/17