Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mexican high court rules that only federal government may legislate against drug cartels, organized crime

Guadalajara -
Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that none of the country's 31 states or the Federal District may enact criminal legislation targeting organized crime organizations, a power which it said is reserved exclusively to the federal congress under extensive constitutional reforms passed in 2008.

Meeting in full session, all 11 judicial ministers voted to strike down laws passed by Nuevo León in 2013, which would have authorized the lengthy preliminary detention of suspected organized crime members without trial. Nuevo León has been racked by drug war violence in recent years.

The lawsuit was brought by Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), which challenged the Nuevo León state statutes as a violation of core constitutional protections.

The tribunal's unanimous opinion found that "without doubt, the federal government has fully occupied the arena of organized crime legislation, to the exclusion of all of others." Chief Justice Juan Silva Meza said the result was mandated by constitutional reforms enacted in 2008, which had the net effect of "federalizing" laws directed at Mexico's dozens of drug cartels and hundreds of gangs which often work with them as street distributors, kidnappers and extortionists in local communities.

On Mar. 5 Mexico enacted the first uniform criminal procedure code in its history, which is binding on all 32 states and is gradually being phased in across the country. But that set of rules pertains to the manner in which cases must be investigated and trials must be conducted in court, not to substantive criminal laws which each jurisdiction may still determine for itself.

Dec. 5, 2013 - U.N. selects Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court for Defense of Human Rights Award

May 29 - Mexican high court: DNA results are but one element in resolving question of legal paternity
Mar. 5 - Mexico enacts uniform criminal procedure code for the first time in its history
Feb. 27 - Mexican high court awards punitive damages in Acapulco hotel electrocution case
Jan. 16 - Mexican judges: warrantless cell phone tracking is legal

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