MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s lower house overwhelmingly approved on Tuesday a constitutional amendment bill that allows prosecution of presidents for crimes such as corruption.
The bill, which amends articles 108 and 111 of the Mexican constitution, was passed by a vote of 420-29 with five abstentions. It now goes back to the Senate for its analysis and possible ratification, legislative sources said.
Article 108 of the constitution laid down that the head of government could only be charged with treason and serious crimes of the common order. But after the constitutional changes, it establishes that the presidents can also be charged and criminally prosecuted for acts of corruption and electoral crimes.
The reform will also allow the country’s president to be charged with organized crime, intentional homicide, rape, kidnapping, human trafficking and crimes committed through violent means such as weapons and explosives.
Also, presidents may be charged with serious offenses determined by law against national security (genocide, financing terrorist organizations, blocking intelligence activities), the free development of the personality (for example the corruption of minors and sexual tourism against children) and health (drug-trafficking), the house said in a statement.
The Senate earlier passed the amendment on March 26 and sent it to the chamber of deputies. The lower house changed it to remove from the text the possibility that members of the Congress of the Union (legislature) may also be charged with the same crimes.
The amendment was made because “a discrepancy between the text of the amendment of the constitutional article 108 and the spirit of the proposal originally outlined in the Executive’s initiative” was noted, said lawmaker Miroslava Carrillo, of the ruling National Regeneration Movement.
The proposal, which ends presidential immunity, was forwarded to the Congress by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in December, a few days after taking office.
Since the promulgation of the Mexican constitution in 1917, the head of state could only be tried for “the crime of treason to the Motherland.”