Blog Posts

Congress Urges President Obama to Prioritize Human Rights in Upcoming Visit to Mexico


Just a week before President Obama’s first visit to Mexico since President Peña Nieto assumed office, 24 Members of Congress sent a letter on April 23rd to newly appointed Secretary of State John Kerry with a clear request -- “make the defense of human rights a central part of the bilateral agenda with our neighbor.”    

This letter, co-sponsored by Representative Moran (D-VA) and Representative Poe (R-TX), reflects bi-partisan concern about “the persistence of grave human rights violations in Mexico.”  President Pena Nieto has expressed his commitment to human rights since assuming office on December 1, 2012, noting that one of Mexico’s greatest challenges is to make sure that “rights established on paper become reality.” These representatives underscore the scope and severity of challenges that lay ahead, noting  “a five-fold increase in complaints—from 534 in 2007 to 2,723 in 2012—of human rights violations by Mexican soldiers and federal police, including torture, rape, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, as well as other abuses.”

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Human Rights Challenges in Mexico, Part 3: Military Jurisdiction


Since 2006, the deterioration of Mexico’s security situation due to the Mexican government’s “war on organized crime” has made international headlines. The violence has affected tens of thousands of citizens and exacerbated long-standing issues of corruption and institutional weakness. During the administration of former President Felipe Calderón, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH) saw a five-fold increase in complaints of human rights violations by Mexican soldiers and federal police, including torture, rape, extrajudicial execution, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearance.  At the same time, human rights defenders have found it increasingly difficult to carry out their work due to threats to their safety. Recently elected president Enrique Peña Nieto has firmly expressed his commitment to making sure that “rights established on paper become reality,” but his government has yet to make concrete changes that would reflect this commitment.
 

During the "Human Rights Challenges in Mexico" event, co-hosted by the Latin America Working Group Education Fund, the Washington Office on Latin America, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Just AssociatesCristina Hardaga Fernández of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center, Guerrero, Mexico discussed the militarization of public security and the need for reform of the military justice code in Mexico. The following is a translation.

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Human Rights Challenges in Mexico, Part 1: The Use of Torture


Since 2006, the deterioration of Mexico’s security situation due to the Mexican government’s “war on organized crime” has made international headlines. The violence has affected tens of thousands of citizens and exacerbated long-standing issues of corruption and institutional weakness. During the administration of former President Felipe Calderón, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH) saw a five-fold increase in complaints of human rights violations by Mexican soldiers and federal police, including torture, rape, extrajudicial execution, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearance.  At the same time, human rights defenders have found it increasingly difficult to carry out their work due to threats to their safety. Recently elected president Enrique Peña Nieto has firmly expressed his commitment to making sure that “rights established on paper become reality,” but his government has yet to make concrete changes that would reflect this commitment.

During the "Human Rights Challenges in Mexico" event, co-hosted by the Latin America Working Group Education Fund, the Washington Office on Latin America, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Just AssociatesStephanie Brewer (Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center) discussed the use of torture as it relates to Mexico's criminal justice system. The following is a translation...

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Human Rights Challenges in Mexico, Part 2: Attacks on Human Rights Defenders

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Until We Find Them, Part 1: The Disappeared in Mexico


The 1994 Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons defines forced disappearance as “the act of depriving a person or persons of his or their freedom, in whatever way, perpetrated by agents of the state or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of the state, followed by an absence of information or a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the whereabouts of that person, thereby impeding his or her recourse to the applicable legal remedies and procedural guarantees.” On Monday, March 18, 2013 the Latin America Working Group Education Fund together with the Washington Office on Latin Americathe Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the US Office on Colombia, and the Guatemala Human Rights Commissionhosted a panel event entitled “Until We Find Them: The Disappeared in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru” to discuss the situation of forced disappearances in each country.

Nadín Reyes Maldonado is the daughter of Edmundo Reyes Amaya, who was detained and disappeared on May 25, 2007 in Oaxaca, Mexico. She founded the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared “Until We Find Them” (Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos "Hasta Encontrarlos"). Nadín shared the following testimony about the current situation of the disappeared in Mexico during the March 18th panel.The following testimony is a translation..

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What DOES Border Security Look Like?


President Obama, Congress, and a growing majority of American voters agree that the U.S. immigration system is broken and must be fixed. However, more than a month into the president’s second term and an unending national debate, the question remains: will anything actually happen on immigration reform? Recent events, including a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” held February 13th provided us with an inkling of what we might have in store. Committee Chair Senator Leahy (D-Vt.) echoed President Obama saying “Now is the time” for immigration reform. Meanwhile, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) saw “overconfidence on this (immigration reform) bill” and asserted that he and others will continue to fight it over issues of earned legalization, enforcement, and border security. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators working on their own comprehensive immigration framework, indicated support for making reform happen, he also noted that any discussions thus far include “triggers that need to be tripped in terms of border security...”

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"An Infinite Sadness Overwhelms My Heart...Your Absence"


“Una tristeza infinita agobia mi corazón…tu ausencia. Triste realidad que el llanto nos arranca, mas tengo en mi tristeza una alegría ¡Que algún día te voy a encontrar!” “Hija, solo vivo para encontrarte.”
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“An infinite sadness overwhelms my heart..your absence. This sad reality moves us to weep, but within my sadness is a happiness that someday I will find you! Daughter, I only live to find you.”


This was one of many homemade signs hung by victims on the walls of the high school auditorium where victims of violence and human rights activists from Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. gathered in Mexico City last month to take stock and chart next steps for Mexico’s Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD).  Before discussions started, Father Solalinde, a Catholic priest well-known for his valiant efforts to protect migrants at a shelter in Oaxaca, reminded us all of the urgency of this effort, calling us to “ponernos las pilas,” to buckle down and focus on moving the effort for peace and justice forward...

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