Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mexican judges consider constitutionality of "hawk" law

Michoacán statute is aimed at punishing narco "halcones"

Guadalajara -
Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court has taken preliminary jurisdiction over a case arising in Michoacán state, where earlier this year the local legislature passed a criminal statute which would jail for up to 12 years "anyone who obtains and shares information concerning the location, activities, movements or operations of the armed forces or public security agencies."

Mexico's Human Rights Commission, which a week ago reported an an absence of public authority in some parts of the state, filed a constitutional challenge to the law claiming it is "overbroad," a legal concept which means the statute is so all encompassing on its face that even innocent conduct could be construed as a violation of its literal terms. Statutory overbreadth is a common theme in American constitutional law, and is sometimes used by courts to strike down legislative enactments.

The statute is so written that any exchange of information between two persons about police activities observed in the most public of locations theoretically could fall within its parameters. That led to the Commission's court challenge.

But in reality the new Michoacán law was designed to target halcones - a term which means hawk or falcon. Halcones have long worked as independent contractors of sorts for Mexican drug cartels and organized crime, reporting on law enforcement activities and movements and serving as the eyes and ears of violent local managers. "Southern Zetas" operating in Cancún's hotel zone, say Quintana Roo authorities. In Cancún, taxi drivers frequently moonlight as halcones, a fact which Quintana Roo Gov. Roberto Borge admitted a year ago this week.

The Supreme Judicial Court has not yet made a final decision on whether to accept the case for full review, but Michoacán officials have been ordered to file a preliminary response to the Commission's allegations of unconstitutionality.

Mar. 26, 2014 - Quintana Roo governor in the crosshairs over "fascist" anti-protest law
Mar. 12, 2014 - Mexico's Supreme Court upholds police vetting process
Jan. 16, 2014 - Mexican judges: warrantless cell phone tracking is legal
Dec. 5, 2013 - U.N. selects Mexico's Supreme Court for Defense of Human Rights Award
Apr. 14, 2013 - Eight found executed in Cancún; taxi drivers suspected

© MGR 2014. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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