May 7, 2014
The Christian Science Monitor, 5/1/14
A Mexican congressional decision this week that allows members of its armed forces to be tried in civilian courts for crimes against civilians is a long-awaited win for Mexico’s human rights, advocates say.
Mexico’s lower house unanimously voted 428-0 on Wednesday to change provisions in the military code, including a clause that had given the military courts jurisdiction over any crimes committed by on-duty soldiers. The senate passed the changes last week and the bill is now expected to be signed into law by President Enrique Peña Nieto.
The reform is an important step, because a civilian court, “for all its flaws, is not rigged against” civilians as military courts are, Human Rights Watch senior Americas researcher, Nik Steinberg, told The Associated Press in an email. Mexico’s civilian system is far from perfect: More than 96 percent of crimes are never solved or punished. But the military system is considered opaque, with no public access to trial or prosecution information, and is full of incentives for judges to rule in favor of the military, according to a Human Rights Watch report, “Uniform Impunity.”
January 27, 2014
The Huffington Post, 1/24/14
The failure of Congress and the White House to address the country’s immigration problems drew fire from a prominent human rights watchdog this week — again. Human Rights Watch criticized the U.S. government in its “World Report 2014,” released Tuesday, for what it called “abuses” related to the incarceration and deportation of undocumented immigrants. The organization echoed similar faults it found with U.S. immigration policy in world reports from past years.
The authors criticize the U.S. government’s human rights record, calling it “marred by abuses related to criminal justice immigration, national security and drug policy.” The report names immigrants and ethnic minorities as among the “most vulnerable members” of U.S. society. The report also notes that U.S. detention centers now hold approximately 400,000 undocumented immigrants each year, with hundreds in solitary confinement.
February 22, 2013
The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon, summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.
What the English-language press had to say…
This week, auto defensa vigilante groups in the state of Guerrero released the last of the 42 alleged criminals they had kept hostage for almost two months, avoiding a showdown with government authorities. The leader of one such group reported the first casualty since the movement began in early January. Human Rights Watch released a scathing report blaming Mexico’s police and military forces of involvement in several dozen missing person cases. The government pledged to address the issue by, among other things, collecting DNA samples from the families of the disappeared in an effort to match missing persons’ reports with thousands of unidentified corpses found in recent years. In Tamaulipas, an anonymous Facebook and Twitter campaign continued to attract thousands of followers eager to receive unofficial updates on organized crime. International observers drew attention to the lack of safety that journalists working in Mexico face.
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February 22, 2013
Associated Press, 2/21/2013
Mexico said Thursday that it will work with the International Red Cross on the search for thousands of people who have disappeared during the country’s six-year-old war on drug cartels. Officials provided few details of the arrangement signed in a public ceremony by the head of the International Red Cross and Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong.
The Red Cross said in a statement that it would provide “studies, protocols and technical assistance related to the search for the disappeared” but gave no specifics. Red Cross officials said they could not release a copy of the agreement, and the Interior Department did not immediately respond to requests for a copy.
February 21, 2013
Maximina Hernandez says she begged her 23-year old son, Dionicio, to give up his job as a police officer in a suburb of Monterrey. Rival drug cartels have been battling in the northern Mexican city for years. But he told her being a police officer was in his blood, a family tradition. He was detailed to guard the town’s mayor.
In May 2007, on his way to work, two men wearing police uniforms stopped Dionicio on a busy street, pulled him from his car and drove him away. That same day, the mayor’s other two bodyguards were also abducted. Witnesses say the kidnappers wore uniforms of an elite anti-drug police unit. The three men haven’t been seen since.
February 21, 2013
The New York Times, 2/21/2013
Nearly 150 people and possibly hundreds more have disappeared at the hands of Mexico’s police and military during the drug war with little or no investigation of the cases, a human rights group said Wednesday, as it called on the new government to account for the country’s missing. The organization, Human Rights Watch, said in a report that Mexico has “the most severe crisis of enforced disappearances in Latin America in decades.” The group found a litany of cases in which witnesses reported people had been abducted or were last seen with the military or the police, never to be seen again.
Altogether the group documented 149 such cases in the past six years, after the previous president, Felipe Calderón, began his term with heavy deployments of military and federal police to combat exploding violence. The group’s investigation found 60 cases in which witness testimony and other evidence demonstrated that local police officers had colluded with cartels in abductions.
February 13, 2012
Los Angeles Times, 2/13/12
Mexico’s defense secretary has conceded errors in the country’s drug war, in one of the more frank assertions from the government as it wages a military-led campaign against violent traffickers.
Gen. Guillermo Galvan Galvan, speaking last week at a military event commemorating the March of Loyalty, also acknowledged that some regions of the country are not fully under government control, despite the deployment of tens of thousands of troops within the country’s borders.
“Of course there have been errors. Recognizing it is loyalty,” he said (link in Spanish). “In some regions of the country, organized crime has appropriated the institutions of the state[....] In these [areas] of the national territory, public security has been totally overtaken.”