Monday, April 12, 2010

Defining Proper Behavior for Security Agencies

Jorge Chabat splits the difference between those who think that Mexico should continue full steam ahead in attacking organized crime and those who think it should lay off the gas:
[I]t's vital that we define and apply protocols for the use force by the agencies tasked with applying the law as well as punish the public officials who don't respect said protocols. There's no other way. The security force, as with any other government official, must be subject to rules in carrying out their job and sanctions when they don't fulfill their duty in the previously established manner. This of course touches on the sensitive topic of the military fuero [the exemption of soldiers from civilian trials]. And on this point it's clear that though the fuero has it's origins in dealing with breaches of military discipline, the application of the fuero when complaints about human rights abuses by members of the armed forces are presented does not contribute to a sense of certainty that the use of force is carried out in the appropriate manner, which delegitimizes the government's strategy of combating drug traffickers. In other words, if there is not clear demarcation of the form in which the security forces must behave in their combat against organized crime, the positions of those who think that government force shouldn't be applied because of the social cost that this application can generate will be strengthened. And that, ultimately, will derail policies of combating drug traffickers. And in such a situation the only ones who will are the criminals, not the government nor the citizens.
I take this as another argument that addressing human rights is most important for people who, like Calderón, favor a tough stance toward organized crime, for the reasons Chabat mentions, but also because a more humane security policy is going to be over the long haul objectively better at reducing crime and arresting criminals.

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