West News Wire: The army’s involvement in duties related to public security has been restricted by Mexico’s highest court, which has prevented President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from controversially placing a civilian force under military command. 

The National Guard plan, which was approved by the Congress, which is controlled by the governing party, last September, concerned Lopez Obrador’s rivals and human rights activists who claimed it gave the military excessive power. 

The Supreme Court ruled that the legislative change giving the defense ministry operational and administrative responsibility over the National Guard was unconstitutional on Tuesday by a vote of 8 to 3. 

Lopez Obrador has pledged to send the military back to its barracks before taking office in 2018. 

But under his presidency, the armed forces have kept their role in tackling drug cartel-related violence and even gained more responsibility, including control of ports and customs and major infrastructure projects. 

Lopez Obrador created the National Guard in 2019 with a civilian command to replace federal police accused of corruption and human rights violations. 

He has since argued the military is less likely to be infiltrated by organised crime than other branches of the security forces. 

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights last year described the National Guard reform as a “setback to public security grounded in human rights”. 

Nada al-Nashif, then acting UN high commissioner for human rights, said at the time the changes “effectively leave Mexico without a federal civilian police force, further cementing the already prominent role of the armed forces in public security in Mexico”. 

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The military’s increased role had led to more allegations of human rights violations by law enforcement and the armed forces, and no sustainable reduction in crime, she said. 

More than 350,000 people have been killed in a spiral of bloodshed since the government of then-President Felipe Calderon controversially deployed the army to fight drug cartels in 2006. 


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