The pros and cons of the AMLO Amnesty Law in Mexico

The Mexican Executive delivered a bill to the Chamber of Deputies, in order to be approved this month.

The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has spoken of amnesty since he was a candidate for the Presidency. Already as an elected president, last October he announced that once he assumed power he would issue a decree to free political prisoners through that resource.

At the same time, and in the face of a crisis of violence that has not been fully attended by the ordinary institutions and mechanisms of justice, the discussion about the need to design and implement a transitional justice policy was accentuated.

This September 16, in the framework of the commemoration of the Independence of Mexico, the head of the Executive sent to the Chamber of Deputies an Amnesty Law initiative to benefit people who have not committed serious crimes, such as women imprisoned for abortion or people who did not have adequate defense.

Andrea Guadarrama.
“It has some things that can be worrisome, such as the one who grants the amnesty is the Attorney General’s Office and in the case of the crime of sedition, the Ministry of the Interior and not a judge.”Andrea Guadarrama.

The amnesty law proposed by the López Obrador Government would be applicable for crimes such as simple theftdrug useabortion practice, and sedition. “It has to do with humble people who did not have lawyers, elderly women, indigenous people who did not have an adequate defense, who were not assisted or helped; and the crimes for which they are accused are not serious, they are not blood crimes, of violence, “the Latin American president said Tuesday at his traditional press conference .

Isolated effort?

Andrea Guadarrama, a lawyer specializing in human rights and transitional justice, warns that the initiative is not linked to a more complex process of reconciliation and pacification. “It seems an isolated effort, without much thought in operational terms. Besides that, it has some things that can be worrisome, such as the fact that it is granted by the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) and, in the case of sedition, the Ministry of the Interior (Segob), instead of a judge, “says in an interview with RT.

Mexican soldiers patrol the streets of Acapulco, Guerrero state, February 25, 2019. / Pedro Pardo / AFP

Another aspect on which the specialist draws attention is that the law initiative does not establish any link to a program of reintegration of the released persons, which, in his opinion, puts on the table the conflict over the accompaniment after the beneficiaries of the measure. 

“When it was thought of as part of transitional justice policy, it made more sense (…) In fact, it is proven that when amnesty is done alongside truth and justice strategies it can have a very positive outcome, but [in this case] is launched as a somewhat solitary action, which does not correct any structural problem, “he says.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico
“All this is being analyzed, it has to go through the authorization of the victims, you have to assess the type of crimes and, of course, the commitment not to commit crimes again.”Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico

However, the Mexican president declared that the mechanism of reintegration of released persons is under evaluation. “All this is being analyzed, it has to go through the authorization of the victims, the type of crimes must be assessed and, of course, the commitment not to commit illicit again,” he said.

The López Obrador Government plans to accompany the amnesty law with a series of actions such as the attention to young people ; Public security work of the National Guard; a campaign to reduce drug use; the fight against corruption; respect for human rights; and control of weapons from the US, the latter aspect  raised to the Donald Trump administration last week.

A state policy

For Guadarrama, the implementation of transitional justice as a State policy must be prioritized through law or constitutional reform.

“Amnestying people can be a good currency for a very critical situation,” says the specialist, after stressing that Mexico not only faces a situation of aggravated violence, but also high rates of impunity.

The level of impunity in Mexico is 98.86% and there is a  rate of crimes that are not reported and not investigated of 93.6% , according to data from the civil association Impunity Zero.

The Amnesty Law initiative was sent to the Chamber of Deputies, where this Wednesday is expected to be presented before the plenary to begin its legislative process, in order to be approved in the same month.

“The government has to be a little smarter on how to release this letter, maybe they are not broadening the spectrum of everything they could amnesty, in exchange for very important information for criminal prosecution and the construction of a real narrative,” concludes the expert.

Source: reuters, notimex, rt

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