PUEBLA, Mexico – Lawmakers in the central Mexican state of Puebla approved legislation that allows police to use firearms and non-lethal weapons to deal with violent demonstrations, emergencies and natural disasters.
“The police officer will solely be able to use firearms in the case of legitimate defense, his or that of third persons, due to the imminent threat of death or serious injury,” Article 7 of the legislation says.
Thirty-five state legislators, all from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN), voted in favor, while five leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and Green Party lawmakers abstained.
Human rights activists have come out against the legislation, labeling it the “Bullet Law” in Twitter posts and expressing concerns that police will abuse the right to use firearms against protesters.
The legislation, which will be published in Puebla’s Official Daily, can be invoked only in dealing with violent public demonstrations, vandalism and acts of violence during a natural disaster.
The measure was presented to legislators by Gov. Rafael Moreno Valle last weekend.
The legislation says police must identify themselves and order the aggressors to disperse, allowing sufficient time for them to withdraw.
“The aforesaid does not apply when the need for action is immediate, that is, the time given to the aggressor to desist from his actions implies endangering third persons or the police officer himself,” the legislation says.