President Felipe Calderon signed into law a measure authorizing benefits - including new identities - for people who find themselves at risk due to their participation in judicial proceedings, Mexico's attorney general said.

The program is open to crime victims, witnesses, police, forensic technicians, judges and other court personnel, Marisela Morales told reporters.

Individuals accepted to the program will be eligible for healthcare, psychological counseling, temporary housing and subsidies for food and transportation.

When necessary, Morales said, authorities will find a new home, job or school for a protected person. In select cases, the person will be provided with a new identity.

The new law also creates an autonomous protective unit within the AG's office that will be headed by a presidential appointee, she said.

The law will take effect in 180 days, the attorney general said.

Mexico is in the grip of a conflict among drug cartels and between criminals and the security forces that has claimed more than 50,000 lives since December 2006, when the newly inaugurated Calderon militarized the struggle against organized crime. EFE