Mexican Senate majority leader favors wiretapping regulation

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A judicial reform in Mexico should include rules to regulate the use of wiretaps and other forms of surveillance, the majority leader in the Mexican Senate said on Tuesday.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

An earlier wide-reaching judicial reform bill was pulled this year after opponents said measures such as surveillance rules were a risk to privacy.

Ricardo Monreal, who leads the ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party in the upper house, said he hoped a revised version of the bill could be discussed during the current session of Congress, which runs until December.

In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Monreal said it was important that any new law governing surveillance of calls and electronic communications should protect the privacy of citizens and end practices of political espionage prevalent in Mexico.

“Right now, everyone does it as if it were a sport,” Monreal said. “Firm judicial criteria must be established.”

Clearer rules governing the use of surveillance technology could make it easier to convict criminal suspects and facilitate security cooperation with the United States.

However, the earlier justice reform bill was questioned by civil rights groups. The bill proposed allowing private communications to be used as evidence and limiting legal challenges to avoid extradition delays for criminal suspects, many of whom are U.S.-bound.

Many of the criticisms of the earlier bill focused on measures that rights groups feared would lead to wider use of pre-trial detention and torture during interrogation.

Monreal said constitutional changes were needed to clean up Mexico’s system of justice, including reforming the way judges are chosen.

“We are close to making constitutional changes, we are close to making reforms that allow progress to another level of justice in Mexico,” he said, while acknowledging “resistance” to the proposals that meant the bill might not pass during the current session of Congress.

Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel and Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien