The Justice Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, Mexico’s lower house, finished working on a bill that would increase the criminal penalties for kidnapping, but would not include capital punishment. Instituting capital punishment for those convicted of kidnapping and drug trafficking had been the main platform of the small Ecological Green Party of Mexico (Partido Verde Ecológico de México, PVEM) and the idea had caught on among some legislators. However, the Committee decided against it, instead opting to increase the maximum penalty to 50 years in prison, among other things.
The bill has different penalties for various kinds of kidnapping offenses as well. Penalties for perpetrators are greater when it is a repeat offense, is connected to organized crime, is for sexual exploitation purposes, the victim is a minor, is female, and if they are tortured or killed during their capture. The prison sentence for “express kidnapping” (secuestro exprés), which involves a short-term capture with a ransom paid quickly, would be increased from 20 years in prison to 30 or 35 years. By contrast, “virtual kidnapping” (secuestro virtual) will only be considered a kind of fraud, as there is no kidnapped person in these cases. Virtual kidnappings are a fake kidnapping where a perpetrator calls someone, claims to have one of their family members or friends, and then demands payment.
Finally, the bill also creates a fund to provide for kidnapping victims. Representative Josué Valdés Huezo, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI), said that the Committee expects the full Chamber of Deputies to vote on the bill by the end of the month.