Congress Passes Bill to Fine, Imprison Those Who Insult AMLO

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In a ruling that is eerily similar to Thailand’s lèse-majesté (which makes it illegal to defame or insult the king on penalty of imprisonment or expulsion from the country), and which adds yet another nail to the coffin of free speech in Mexico, the Mexican Chamber of Deputies late Tuesday, Feb. 14, approved a new proposal that would set fines for “insulting” the president.

The new ruling, which would supersede all previous laws regarding verbal or written offenses against the president, also establishes pecuniary penalties for print media for insulting government secretaries, the federal attorney general, governors and legislators.

A similar law that passed in 1917 does already exist on the books in Mexico, but it only allows for much lower fines and has been seldom enforced in recent decades.

The legislation, which was presented by the Deputy Bennelly Jocabeth Hernández of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party, was approved in committee without discussion with 19 votes in favor from the majority Morena bloc and one from Citizen Movement, nine against from opposition parties and no abstentions. It now will pass to the entire Camber of Deputies.

The proposed bill also includes the implementation of potential prison sentences for those who commit the crime of insulting the president or the other aforementioned government officials for periods of three months to one year, in addition to fines of up to 3,848 pesos, based on the current minimum wage.

The new law likewise establishes that anyone who insults a police officer or any other public person can be fined up to 962 pesos.

And it also states that insults to “friendly nations,” their presidents or accredited representatives in Mexico can be punished with a prison sentence of one to 11 months and a fine of between 481 and 3,848 pesos.


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