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LAWG and Partners Tell Secretary Clinton: Mexico Has Failed to Advance Human Rights

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On June 25, 2012, the Latin America Working Group and partner U.S. and Mexican organizations issued a memo to the State Department and congressional leaders stating that Mexico has failed to make meaningful progress in key human rights areas identified by the U.S. Congress, including an end to impunity for human rights abuses committed by soldiers and police and the prohibition of the use of testimony gained through torture. 

To read the full memo, click here.

As noted in the memo, “[i]n providing security assistance to Mexico under the Merida Initiative, the U.S. Congress recognized the Mexican government’s need to make substantive progress in its respect for human rights within the framework of security operations.”  The human rights requirements included in the Merida Initiative can be a constructive tool, but only if subjected to a candid and thorough assessment. The memo underscores that the “best way for the U.S. to reinforce the importance of human rights, accountability, and transparency in its bilateral relations with Mexico, and advance the interests of both countries, is to enforce the conditions it has set out.”

While LAWG and partner organizations acknowledge that the “Mexican government has taken some steps to comply with the human rights requirements such as the transfer of a handful of individual cases of abuse out of military jurisdiction and the passage of protocols regulating the use of force…these are merely isolated efforts that have not changed overall patterns of abuse and impunity.”

Indeed, steps taken to vet federal and state police forces have not proven effective in curtailing human rights violations by Mexican police forces. Confessions obtained through torture continue to be used in court.  And the majority of cases of human rights violations by soldiers against civilians remain in the military justice system, despite several decisions from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and Mexico’s own Supreme Court mandating that such cases be heard in civilian jurisdiction.

Persistent and widespread human rights violations in Mexico and Mexico’s upcoming presidential elections led LAWG and its partners to conclude that, “there is no more important time to send a clear message that the U.S. takes compliance with these human rights commitments seriously.

This memo was authored by the Latin America Working Group, Amnesty International USA, Ciudadanos en Apoyo a los Derechos Humanos, Fundar, Human Rights Watch, Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, Tlachinollan Human Rights Center, and Washington Office on Latin America.