During the 2018 presidential campaign, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s rivals reacted furiously when he proposed an amnesty bill for minor offenders.
Rather than potentially returning criminals to the streets to reoffend, stiffer sentences and a more effective justice system were what Mexico needed most, his opponents raged.
With the comfort of a landslide victory under his belt and still enjoying favorable approval ratings, Lopez Obrador is plowing ahead with many of his campaign promises, despite criticisms that they lack substance, and are more symbolic than far reaching.
Sending a draft of the Ley de Amnestia to Congress September 15, Lopez Obrador stressed that clemency would not be granted to murderers or kidnappers or anyone who “caused serious injury to another person.”
Prisoners entitled to apply for amnesty include:
• Women pressured into selling drugs by their partners.
• Indigenous persons denied access to translators and satisfactory legal representation during their judicial procedures.
• Young persons living in poverty and without work opportunities who were convicted for drug possession, or the sale of drugs just to support their habit.
• All women who freely decided to have an abortion and the doctors who performed them.
• First-time offenders convicted of non-violent robbery of amounts (or merchandise with value of) up to 51,000 pesos, resulting in sentences of less than four years.
* Anyone convicted of political “sedition’” that did not involve any form of violence.
Repeat offenders will not be eligible for amnesty.
Promoters of the bill stress that those granted clemency are not pardoned for their crimes.
Applications for amnesty will be made by family members or NGOs.
The amnesty only applies to offenses tried in the federal system. Unfortunately, critics say, 85 percent of cases in Mexico are heard by judges in state courts.