Mexico lawmakers back bill to allow stronger military presence

World Today

In Mexico, a proposed law, that would allow the military to act as police officers, is the source of much debate.

Advocates have argued the military needs to step in – to make up for local police who are ineffective and often corrupt.

Critics said it would give too much power to soldiers, who already have a reputation for using excessive force and operating outside the law.

CGTN’s Denny Alfonso reports.

Images of a man dressed in a Mexican military uniform, who appears to kill a civilian lying face down with a shot to the back of his head, were captured by a street camera in central Mexico in May. The video prompted public outrage and condemnation.

According to the government, the man on the ground was suspected of stealing gasoline, and part of a larger crime ring. Despite incidents like this, Mexican Senator Roberto Gil says the country must turn to its military to enforce domestic security and he’s one of the backers of a controversial law of internal security bill which would grant policing power to soldiers.

“Mexico was forced to ask its army to do the job, because local police couldn’t do it, they are inexperienced, fragile and corrupt. The navy and the military had to take control”” Robert Gil, a Mexican senator said.

Authorities say two operations against criminal organizations took place the day this violence was captured on video, and ten people in all were killed, four soldiers and six suspects. Human rights officials in Mexico and beyond say the scenes in the video show an alarming abuse of power.

“They are looking to give a license to kill, and permits to proceed with arbitrary detentions, and to obtain confessions thru torture,” Jose Guevara on the Mexican Commission on Human Rights said.

Since the government turned to the military for help cracking down on drug crime a decade ago, reports of abuses by the military are way up.

Government data shows more than one thousand civil complaints of military torture were registered in just the two-year period between 2013 and 2014.

“Seven years ago my son was killed and disappeared; the military was there’s law that permits soldiers to be in the streets are permitting crimes like my son’s murder to remain unpunished,” Alicia Rabadan a violence victim said.

The role of the armed forces has been questioned in the cases of thousands of Mexicans who go mysteriously missing every year, including the infamous case of 43 students who disappeared in 2014 in Ayotzinapa.