Mar 8, 2012

Mexico Rule of Law: Experts ask that penal reforms proposed by Calderon not be approved

President Caldeon has submitted to the Mexican Congress a legislative proposal that would make  acts "chained" or linked to criminal organizations and/or their acts into criminal acts. Such "chains" would apparently include an individual being determined to be a member of a criminal group, without evidence that the person had actually committed any crime. Such "chained crimes" raise serious human rights issues. This article presents a debate during a congressional hearing on the legislation.   

La Jornada: "Experts and members of the Mexican Academy of Criminal Science, the Center for Criminal Policy Research and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), participating in the "Criminal Chains Forum", organized by the Mexican Senate, stated that the proposal by President Felipe Calderon to reform the Federal Penal Code and Criminal Procedure in order to punish acts linked to commited crimes should not be approved as filed, because it represents a danger, as it makes it possible to convict a person who has committed no crime.

The deputy attorney general for Legal and International Affairs of the Attorney General's Office (PGR), Alejandro Ramos Flores, told the senators: "The initiative is submitted by the executive branch in order to make an effective attack against organized crime ... in order to undermine the activities that favor criminal organizations through linked acts that make up the criminal networks affecting society as a whole."

After listening to the experts and academics who spoke against passing these reforms because of the risks they pose to society, Ramos Flores empahsized: "It is very important for the executive branch to include in our legal framework criminal responsibility for those acts which, by themselves, do not constitute a crime, but which contribute to the objectives of organized crime. "

... Among such acts, Ramos Flores mentioned roadblocks in support of drug gangs, officials who shut down airports luggage monitors that check for drugs and weapons, or bank employees who fail to report money laundering operations. In his view, all occur in support of organized crime and should be tried for criminal conspiracy or facilitation, the new offenses proposed in the president's initiative.

Regarding this, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Alejandro González Alcocer (PAN), in closing the forum, said that the initiative as it stands, "in the hands of our existing police and investigative bodies, could be a very dangerous weapon, because you could blame anyone for committing crimes they didn't commit, or committed under threat, or even without knowing it."

The question that this forum attempts to answer, said the legislator, "is whether it is possible to give a sharp knife to those whom we know will use it badly, because you can blame anyone. For example, there is the case of those who are forced to use a truck to block a busy avenue so that organized crime can commit a crime. That is what may happen and those who were forced will be accused. This is controversial. I personally disagree with that idea because it breaks with traditional criminal law, which seeks to punish someone who commits a crime intentionally." Spanish original

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