Amnesty and legal protection reforms in Mexico become law

MEXICO CITY, (Reuters) – Mexico enacted on Friday two controversial laws that increased the president’s power to grant amnesty while limiting judges’ ability to suspend projects.

The amendments to the law, which were approved by Congress in early this year, and will take effect on Saturday allow the President to grant amnesty directly without following established procedures as long as the recipient has an active criminal case, or has been prosecuted, or sentenced.

According to the decree, the person must also provide relevant information on cases that are of interest to the state.

Andres Lopez Obrador, the outgoing president of Mexico, has said that an amnesty could bring clarity to investigations like the disappearances of 43 students in 2014 – which rights group say were riddled with incomplete information and false testimony.

The law, say critics, will deny victims the right to compensation.

The second amendment limits the judges’ power to suspend temporarily laws and federal works as part of a legal procedure designed to prevent abuses known as “amparo”.

The judges have used this to stop projects like the Mayan train project in southern Mexico, and to reform the energy sector to increase state control.

The amendment was deemed necessary to prevent political use of the law, but opponents claimed it took away the key powers from the judiciary.

The April approved reforms come into force as Lopez Obrador’s protégée, President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum prepares to start public discussions about a proposed judicial overhaul backed by the president. This would include popular election of top judges and other magistrates.

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