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The New York City Bar Association (NYCBA) on Thursday, March 11, issued a formal statement expressing it “serious concerns” about remarks made by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) during his daily news conference on Monday, Feb. 22, in which he accused Mexican lawyers of “treason against the country” for representing foreign companies that are expected to take legal positions against his newly implemented energy reform.

“President López Obrador’s statements have alarmed Mexico’s legal community, as well as the international legal community,” the one-page statement said.

“The New York City Bar Association opposes any action or statements by President López Obrador or his supporters that improperly interfere with the role of lawyers in Mexico advocating for their clients as a threat to the rule of law.”

According to reports, the NYCBA said, although the Mexican president’s remarks “were initially directed at lawyers representing the farm lobby, his comments also encompassed Mexican lawyers hired to represent companies that oppose his recent energy proposal.”

“López Obrador’s baseless accusation of treason against lawyers for engaging in the practice of law is dangerous and runs counter to the UN Basic Principles.”

…New York City Bar Association

“It’s shameful that Mexican lawyers are employed by foreign companies that want to continue to plunder Mexico,” AMLO said in February.

“Hopefully they (the lawyers) will start to internalize that this is treason against the country.

The NYCBA said that the president’s comments calling lawyers treason was “a direct attack on the rule of law, including the independence of lawyers.”

“Article 123 of Mexico’s Federal Penal Code states that treason against the state includes an array of actions that qualify as overt treasonous acts: conspiracy, sedition and terrorism, among others,” the NYCBA statement said.

“There is nothing in the statute that suggests that providing legal representation to a party adverse to the government’s position would entail treason against the country. Furthermore, Article 5 of Mexico’s Constitution stipulates that ‘no person may be prevented from performing the profession, industry, business or work of (their) choice, provided that it is lawful.”

The NYCBA statement went on to point out: “Articles 1, 17 and 123 of Mexico’s Constitution also protect lawyers, foreign individuals and corporations in offering and seeking legal representation. And the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990) obligates governments to ensure that legal practitioners ‘are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference,’ and that they ‘shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics’.”

Consequently, the NYCBA statement said, “López Obrador’s baseless accusation of treason against lawyers for engaging in the practice of law is dangerous and runs counter to the UN Basic Principles.”

The NYCBA statement echoed those of other legal experts and professional organizations issuing that rebuked AMLO’s treason remarks.

“The New York City Bar Association commends those who have spoken up and calls upon President López Obrador and his administration to honor their international commitments to the rule of law and to respect the work of lawyers, regardless of whom they represent,” the NYCBA said.

AMLO’s controversial electricity bill was suspended earlier in the day by a federal court.

…March 11, 2021

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