Mexico's amnesty, legal protection reforms become law

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexico enacted two controversial laws on Friday that increase the president's ability to grant amnesty and limit judges' ability to suspend public projects.

The legal amendments, approved by Congress earlier this year and taking effect on Saturday, allow the president to directly grant amnesty without going through established procedures, as long as the person receiving it has an ongoing criminal case or has been prosecuted or sentenced.

The person must also provide information about cases relevant to the state, the decree reads.

Outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has argued that the amnesty law could help bring clarity on investigations such as the 2014 disappearance of 43 students - which rights groups say was riddled by incomplete information, false testimonies and complicity by the armed forces.

Critics argue the law will deprive victims of the right to reparation.

The other amendment limits judges' ability to provisionally suspend laws and federal works under a legal process designed to prevent abuses of power known as an "amparo."

Judges have used this measure to seek to halt projects such as the Mayan Train project in southern Mexico and a reform to boost state control over the energy sector.

Proponents said the amendment could prevent the legal measure from being used for political purposes, while opponents argued it takes away key power from the judiciary.

The reforms, which were approved in April, come into effect as Lopez Obrador's protegee, President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum, prepares to launch public discussions on a proposed judicial reform backed by the current president, which would include popular elections for top judges and other magistrates.

(Reporting by Kylie Madry and Sarah Morland; Editing by William Mallard)