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Mexican court: Army not required to notify police of arrests

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MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the armed forces are not required to notify civilian police when making an arrest.

The question is tricky, because the Mexican military is supposed to participate in civilian law enforcement only to “support” the police.

But the court ruled on Tuesday that soldiers can make an arrest without telling police, provided they end up recording the arrest in a computer system used by civilian agencies.

The armed forces have often been accused of violating human rights. But Mexico’s underpaid and outdated police force alone cannot handle the country’s well-armed drug cartels.

Some civilian police forces complain that the armed forces and the largely militarized National Guard are not trained in proper arrest procedures and writing standardized crime reports.

A broader criticism is that the Armed Forces and National Guard do few investigations and therefore cannot build strong cases except when they catch suspects committing a crime.

The court last year upheld a constitutional change that allows the military to continue performing law enforcement duties until 2028, ruling against calls that law enforcement should be left to civilian police forces.

Critics have warned that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is militarizing the country and ignoring the separation of powers.

Putting soldiers and marines on the streets to fight crime has long been seen as a stopgap measure to tackle the country’s well-armed drug cartels. In 2019, lawmakers voted to have civilian police assume these duties by 2024.

But López Obrador supports relying on the military indefinitely because he sees the armed forces as more honest. The president has entrusted the military with more responsibilities than any Mexican leader in recent memory.

washingtonpost Gt

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