Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that the armed forces do not have to inform civilian police when they make an arrest.
This is a sensitive issue, since the participation of the Mexican armed forces in public security is supposed to be solely in support of the police.
But the court ruled Tuesday that soldiers can make an arrest without informing police, as long as they eventually record the arrest in a computer system used by civilian agencies.
The armed forces have frequently been accused of human rights violations. But Mexico’s underpaid and outdated police forces cannot single-handedly take on the often well-armed drug cartels.
Some civilian police forces complain that the armed forces and the National Guard, a highly militarized group, do not have adequate training in arrest procedures and standardized reporting.
A broader criticism is that the military and National Guard do little investigative work, and therefore cannot sustain robust prosecutions, except when suspects are caught in the act.
Last year, the highest court upheld a change to the constitution that allows the armed forces to continue to carry out police work until 2028, rejecting appeals that argued that such work should remain exclusively in the hands of civilian police forces.
Critics have warned that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is militarizing the country and ignoring the separation of powers.
Putting soldiers and sailors on the streets to fight crime is an act that has long been viewed as a stopgap measure in the fight against the country’s drug cartels. In 2019, lawmakers voted that civilian police should take over those duties by 2024.
But Lopez Obrador is in favor of using the armed forces indefinitely because he sees them as a more honest institution. The president has given them more responsibilities than any other ruler in the country’s recent history.
Source: El Nuevo Herald