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Congress to Secretary Kerry: Support Human Rights, End to Impunity in Mexico

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Author: Emma Buckhout

By Emma Buckhout, July 8, 2015

Last week, 82 members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing concern about ongoing human rights violations in Mexico and urging Secretary Kerry to discuss these violations with his Mexican counterparts.

Sponsored by Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, the letter highlights the June 2014 case in which Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission found that Mexican soldiers extrajudicially executed at least 12 civilians and altered the crime scene, and then officials from the State Attorney General’s office sexually tortured three women to obtain false testimony.

The letter also points to the September 2014 case of the forced disappearance of 43 students from a rural teacher’s college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero as emblematic of the ongoing problem of forced disappearances and continued impunity in Mexico. Although the Mexican government has touted that more than 100 individuals have been detained in connection with the Ayotzinapa case, the official response and investigation have been slow, riddled with problems, and failed to uncover the truth. The letter lends important congressional support to the ongoing work of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts designated by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which will release its report and recommendations on the case in September.

As the letter states, “these two cases are not isolated incidents in Mexico; rather they illustrate a broader pattern of grave human rights violations in the country, including cases of torture, arbitrary detentions, kidnapping, and extra-judicial executions.” This congressional action comes in the wake of the State Department’s release of its own annual report on the human rights situation in Mexico in 2014, which states, “Impunity for human rights abuses remained a problem throughout the country with extremely low rates of prosecution for all forms of crime.”

The Latin America Working Group is pleased that so many members of Congress have chosen to take a stand for improving the dire human rights situation in Mexico. We thank all those advocates who encouraged their members to sign on—this is the most well-supported congressional letter on Mexico in years. We hope Congress will continue to work with Secretary Kerry to make sure that real reforms are made to combat impunity and bring justice to the thousands of families of disappeared throughout Mexico.

To read the complete letter and see the list of signatories, click here.

To read Representative Lowenthal’s statement on the letter, click here.