Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Militarization of law enforcement

Presidents of Mexico have long tried to improve law enforcement by enlarging the role of the military in civil policing. The assumption was that military officers are less likely to be corrupt than police. But, are soldiers trained to act like police?

As Mexico debates giving the military more power, a judge asks why soldiers gunned down 22 people
As Mexican lawmakers debate expanding the role of the military in the country’s drug war, a judge has ordered a new probe into whether army commanders ordered soldiers to shoot 22 people in a 2014 incident described by human rights advocates as an extrajudicial massacre.

The federal judge, whose July 31 ruling became public this week, said the federal attorney general’s office failed to fully investigate a military order issued before the killing that instructed soldiers to “shoot down criminals in hours of darkness.”…

The judge said the attorney general's office has failed to diligently conduct an “investigation into the facts or the orders issued to military elements through the chain of command.”

In a statement, the human rights organization Centro Prodh said the ruling highlighted the ineffectiveness of Mexico’s justice system.

“The impunity… shows the structural flaws in the administration of justice in Mexico, especially when public servants are involved,” the statement said. It urged Mexico’s members of congress to vote against proposed legislation, called the Law on Internal Security, that seeks to expand the military’s presence in public security.

For a decade now, tens of thousands of Mexican soldiers and naval officers have been embedded in local communities as part of the government’s strategy to fight drug cartels, in part because military officers tend to be regarded as less corrupt than local and state police forces, some of whom collaborate with the cartels.

Human rights advocates say that instead of solidifying the presence of the armed forces in Mexican communities, lawmakers should instead focus on initiatives to strengthen and professionalize Mexico’s civilian police forces…

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