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LatinNews Daily - 27 February 2019

MEXICO: Government discusses national guard with UN commissioner

On 26 February, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for multilateral affairs and human rights, Martha Delgado, met the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Michelle Bachelet.

Analysis:

The meeting’s declared goal was to discuss the contents of a future agreement on “human rights training for the national guard”. The creation of a national guard has been proposed by Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador as part of a national security plan to tackle violence across the country, and a bill outlining its creation was approved last week by Mexico’s federal senate (and is due to be ratified by the lower chamber). The meeting and prospect of OHCHR cooperation with regard to the national guard could assuage human rights concerns which had previously emerged with regard to López Obrador’s initial proposal (which differs from that approved by the senate).

  • The version of the national guard bill approved by the senate is different to López Obrador’s initial proposal which had attracted widespread concerns from human rights groups, international organisations, and the political opposition over concerns that it represented a militarisation of public security. The version approved last week by the senate makes the national guard a civilian body, rather than a quasi-military one, and stipulates that the armed forces’ involvement will be limited to a five-year transition period, during which they will be subordinate to a civilian command structure.
  • According to a press release by Mexico’s foreign ministry (SRE), during the meeting, which was also attended by the SRE’s general director of human rights & democracy Christopher Ballinas Valdés and Mexico's permanent representative to International Organizations in Geneva, Socorro Flores, “they discussed various issues that could be included in the agreement to ensure that the national guard was trained and operated with the highest standards of human rights”.
  • The SRE press release also notes that “areas that could be included in the agreement include: protection and attention specifically for women and vulnerable groups, especially children, adolescents and indigenous people, and regulation of the use of force”. Those present at the meeting also raised the possibility of including mechanisms to prevent abuses by the security forces and to evaluate their human rights performance, among others.

Looking Ahead: Bachelet is due to visit Mexico in April, when it is expected that the issues raised during the first meeting will be discussed in greater detail.