Exclusive: Mexican reform would allow phone calls as evidence, speed extraditions – draft

FILE PHOTO - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures as he speaks during his visit to the Mexican-American Mormon community in La Mora, Sonora, Mexico January 12, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

A major reform of Mexico’s criminal justice system would allow private communications to be used as evidence and limit legal challenges to avoid extradition delays for criminal suspects, according to a reform draft reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday.

It would also permit the Mexican penal code to be extended to crimes committed outside the country if the wrong-doing causes harm in Mexico or to Mexicans, as the government scrambles to address growing insecurity nationwide.

Senate Majority leader Ricardo Monreal said on Monday that the legal reforms had been drawn up by the legal advisor to the office of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the attorney general and were due to be presented in the Senate on Wednesday.

The top legal adviser to Lopez Obrador, Julio Scherer, the attorney general’s office and the president’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment late on Tuesday.

Rampant violence and criminal impunity have become a major headache for Lopez Obrador’s one-year-old government. Last year’s homicide rate reached a new record and the president’s once-sky-high popularity has taken a hit.

His leftist Morena party controls both chambers of Congress, and proposals he backs will likely be approved.

During the past year, Mexicans have watched as cartel gunmen temporarily took over a major city, incidents in which soldiers have been killed after coming 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.

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