Mexico City Congress Approves New Citizen Security Law

The plenary session of the Congress of Mexico City yesterday unanimously approved the opinion abrogating the Public Safety Law of Mexico City.

Mexico City Congress Approves New Citizen Security Law
Photo by Pablo Clemente / Unsplash

The plenary session of the Congress of Mexico City yesterday unanimously approved the opinion abrogating the Public Safety Law of Mexico City and issuing the new Law of the Public Safety System of Mexico City.

"With this law, the citizen security authorities will now have the tools and elements necessary to recover social peace, without make-up and with truth," said Congresswoman Leticia Varela Martinez, president of the Commission on Citizen Security.

She recognized that this opinion was based on a project that integrates the initiative sent by the Head of Government of the capital and those presented by the parliamentary groups of the PAN and PRD, in addition to the contributions presented by legislators of the different parliamentary factions.

"We have agreed to embody the mechanisms and elements necessary to establish a system that strengthens, improves and promotes the provisions and tools necessary to contribute, for example, in the reduction of assaults on pedestrians and motorists, shops, to give greater certainty to businessmen that they will not be stolen and public transport users to leave behind their fear of losing the fortnight," said Varela Martinez.

The new law aims to regulate the functioning of the Public Safety System of the capital - considering public and private services - and establishes the basis for coordination between the city government, the mayor's offices, and the National Public Safety System, including the National Guard.

"Citizen security is not only about reducing crime, but also about a multifaceted strategy to improve the quality of life of the population, about action to prevent crime, about access to an effective justice system, and about education based on values, respect for the law and tolerance.

In presenting the main points of this law, the deputy member of the parliamentary group of MORENA highlighted that one of them is the creation of the Citizen Council of Citizen Security.

The Security Council will be the coordinating body of the system and will be responsible for proposing public policies, strategies, and instruments in the area of citizen security, as well as developing evaluation mechanisms, guidelines for the management of data on criminal incidence, and coordination with the National Public Security System.

This body will be composed of the heads of government, the Secretariats of Citizen Security and Government, the Attorney General's Office, and a representative of the city council. Permanent guests will include federal authorities, mayors, the Citizen Council, and representatives of civil society and academia.

The legislator stressed that the law provides for the creation of the Police University, as an institution of higher education to train specialists and professionals in the field of public safety and provide a scientific basis for the development of more effective security strategies.

Leticia Varela pointed out in her speech that this law establishes the catalog of rights, obligations, and sanctions for irregular conduct for police officers, as well as the coordination mechanisms with the National Guard, "which is a short time after starting operations has contributed to stabilizing and substantially lowering crime rates.

The congresswoman stressed the importance of citizen participation in this new legislation and the creation of the law, among other points of the Proximity Police, a body that will establish ties with the community. It is a police force that will be close to the citizens and that will guarantee the containment of violence and respect for the human rights of the population.

The initiative also foresees the creation of a Citizen Security Platform, which will concentrate databases that will be available to the public, with data such as statistical security reports, system of persons in the custody of the state, and system of traceability of criminal proceedings.

Other registers will also be developed, one of which will provide a criminal census. Based on this, it will be possible to prevent repeat offenders from being treated as first offenders and receiving benefits in prison sentences.

A Registry of Citizen Security Personnel and a Registry of Private Security Personnel will also be created, which will allow for up-to-date information on those who perform this task and will fill gaps in the matter.

The parliamentary groups were generally in favor of agreements to generate a norm that strengthens the strategy against insecurity, although some criticized the reasoning behind their vote.

For the MORENA parliamentary group, José Luis Rodríguez Díaz de León recalled that since December 2018 the head of government announced the strengthening of the strategy.

"We analyzed the initiatives presented by the PAN and PRD; we listened to the reservations of the parliamentary groups of the PT and the PRI, many of them with substantive content. The result is a comprehensive scheme, a public policy engineering that lays the foundation for professional career service; a legal framework that privileges human rights and serves vulnerable groups," he said.

In this way, said Rodriguez Diaz de Leon, in the Legislative Power "we attended to the main claim of the citizenry: the safety of people. This comment was endorsed by deputy Yuriri Ayala Zúñiga, who described this session as historic since the deputies assumed the responsibility of designing a law that meets the needs in terms of security.

Legislator Marisela Zúñiga Cerón emphasized that "we are the first Legislature to address the problem of public security in the city since it was a matter reserved for the Congress of the Union.

Nazario Norberto Sanchez, who recognized the members of the Citizen Security Commission, also reasoned his vote, since he is endowed with a strategy that will improve the quality of life of the citizens of the capital.

For the parliamentary group of the PRD, deputies Jorge Gaviño and Víctor Hugo Lobo reasoned their vote; legislator Gaviño Ambriz asked the Citizen Council to make adjustments in form and substance, because, he said, "it may be a Council, but there is nothing citizen's since it is select or by invitation, let's say so, by the Head of Government.

He indicated that the opinion, with its exceptions, was improving; "the document was improving, also improved the debate, it must be said with honesty. What this law lacked was to recognize the police officers' right to social security.

His colleague, Lobo Román, pointed out that the law has yet to be perfected, "but it is important to recognize the effort and the result because the sovereignty of Mexico City is consolidated. A document with proposals from the different parties was achieved.

Later, Congresswoman Jannete Guerrero Maya, of the PT, remarked that the law opens the way to the solution of the problem; it includes "precepts of equality, objectivity, efficiency, honesty, and respect for human rights. Surely, he said, new dangers will appear. That is why the alliance between authorities and society is fundamental. It is not enough to have a normative body, the challenge is to accompany it with good public policies.

To strengthen this comment, deputy Miguel Ángel Álvarez Melo, of the Parliamentary Association of Social Encounter, indicated that the new law will generate a security scheme with citizen participation and police institutions. "For example, the local police will be reinforced in the mayor's offices. The Security Council will be important; there will be participation, evaluation and that of which the policeman was at the service of the ruler will disappear".

The parliamentary group of the PAN, through its deputy Héctor Barrera, criticized the integration of the Citizen Security Council. "This citizen council has nothing. In this space, the mayors should have a voice, not only as guests, because they are a fundamental part of the responsibility they have. He indicated that the approved law has areas that must be improved. Nevertheless, he acknowledged, a consensus was reached among the parliamentary groups.

During the discussion, deputies Guillermo Lerdo de Tejada, José Luis Rodríguez, Héctor Barrera, Christian Damián Von Roehrich, Víctor Hubo Lobo and Jorge Gaviño made reservations to the opinion.

Each of them presented the reservation and it was put to a vote. Of the proposals presented by Congressman Lerdo de Tejada, the plenary endorsed the modification to specify that the city's justice system is not and cannot be a faculty of the City Government since it has autonomy.

Legislator Jose Luis Rodriguez Diaz's reservation was also approved to make it clear that the resolutions of the Citizen Security Council will have the character of recommendations.

Also, the plenary endorsed some of the proposals made by PAN members Hector Barrera and Christian Von Roehrich; and by PRD member Gaviño Ambriz.

Source: Mexico City Congress