Army’s Role in Public Security Limited by Mexico’s Top Court

April 19, 2023

The Supreme Court of Mexico has rendered invalid the legislation which conferred upon the Ministry of Defense the capacity to oversee both the operational and administrative functions of the National Guard. The Supreme Court has declared the aforementioned legislation unconstitutional via a majority vote of eight to three.


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The apex court of Mexico has implemented a restriction on the involvement of the armed forces in public security operations, thereby obstructing the proposal by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to place a non-military unit under the purview of the military.

The National Guard plan, approved by the governing party-controlled Congress last September, alarmed López Obrador’s opponents and human rights campaigners who said it handed too much power to the armed forces.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court rendered a decision with eight to three votes. It declared as unconstitutional the legislative modification which authorized the defense ministry to assume operational and administrative authority over the National Guard.

López Obrador, prior to assuming power in 2018, had pledged to relegate the military to their barracks.

During his tenure as head of state, the military has sustained its involvement in the suppression of drug cartel-related brutality while assuming increased duties, encompassing the management of harbors and customs, as well as significant infrastructural undertakings.

President López Obrador established the National Guard in the year 2019, designating it a civil authority to supplant the federal police that had faced allegations of impropriety and transgressions against human rights.

Subsequently, he has contended that the armed forces are comparatively less prone to being infiltrated by organized criminal elements in comparison to other factions within the ambit of domestic security forces.

The National Guard reform was deemed by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as a regression in the realm of public safety, which is firmly anchored in the principles of human rights, as revealed in the report from the preceding year.

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