You’ve probably heard plenty about violence committed by warring drug cartels in Mexico over the past several years. But what about the unlawful violence committed by the Mexican military?
Human rights violations committed by soldiers against civilians have skyrocketed since President Calderon took office in 2006. And of the 4,000 complaints of human rights abuses reported so far during his administration, only a single soldier has been held accountable in military jurisdiction. Why this impunity? Because crimes committed by the military against civilians are investigated and tried in notoriously secretive military courts.
The Inter-American court has ordered the Mexican government to transfer all human rights abuses from military to civilian jurisdiction. But, President Felipe Calderon’s proposed reforms would transfer only three human rights violations to civilian courts: torture, rape, and forced disappearance. Everything else, including extrajudicial executions, would stay in the military tribunals. Simply put, the President’s plan doesn’t go far enough.
Through the Merida Initiative, the U.S. government provides assistance to Mexico that is tied to progress on human rights. So, let’s remind Congress of their commitment to urge Mexico towards a stronger, more accountable military justice system that respects all human rights and offers justice to civilians who have been abused by their government.
Representatives Raul Grijalva and Barbara Lee have taken a stand by writing a letter that will go to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to prioritize this human rights issue in her dialogue with Mexico. But before they drop the letter in the mail, we are working to get as many of their congressional colleagues as possible to sign on too, so Secretary Clinton knows they mean business.
Mexican and international human rights groups want to see an end to impunity for soldiers who commit these abuses and are busy advocating for a more just reform. But it will take pressure from Congress—and grassroots activists like you—to shine a spotlight on this issue until Mexican authorities make it a reality.
Thank you for supporting human rights in Mexico today!