January 14, 2020 / 5:06 AM / 10 days ago

Mexican government preparing 'ambitious' criminal justice reform

FILE PHOTO - A soldier assigned to the National Guard is pictured at a checkpoint as part of an ongoing security operation by the federal government near the Mexican-American Mormon community of La Mora, Sonora state, Mexico November 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Faced with rampant drug violence and homicides at record highs, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government is preparing far-reaching reforms of Mexico’s justice system to combat insecurity and a culture of impunity, officials said on Monday.

The reforms, crafted by the attorney general’s office and presidential aides, are expected to be presented in the Senate on Wednesday and potentially passed during a new legislative session that begins in February.

Mexican law enforcement agencies have suffered several spectacular security setbacks since Lopez Obrador came to power a year ago, and his government, which controls both chambers of Congress, is scrambling to address growing insecurity nationwide.

The reform would amend several articles of the constitution, create a new criminal code, set out new procedures, modify an existing law that details legal challenges, and change the legal framework of the attorney general’s office and its regulations.

“It’s a very ambitious, broad reform,” Sen. Ricardo Monreal, a key legislative leader in Lopez Obrador’s leftist Morena party, told Reuters.

Interior Minister Olga Sanchez, Security Minister Alfonso Durazo, Lopez Obrador’s judicial advisor Julio Scherer, and Attorney General Alejandro Gertz would attend a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the reform, Monreal said.

During the past year, Mexicans have seen cartel gunmen temporarily take over a major city, incidents in which soldiers have come under attack from heavily-armed bandits, as well as the gangland ambush in November of nine members of a family that included U.S. citizens.

Reporting by Diego Ore and Raul Cortes Fernandez; Editing by David Alire Garcia & Simon Cameron-Moore

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