Seeking to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship.
At least 10 women and girls are murdered every day in Mexico, according to a new report that says victims’ families are often left to carry out their own homicide investigations.
The scathing report, released on Monday by Amnesty International, documents both the scale of the violence and the disturbing lack of interest on the part of Mexican authorities to prevent or solve the murders.
Verónica Razo, a Mexican 37-year-old mother of three is terrified of sleeping. Every night, when she lies in her bed in a small cell in Morelo’s’ federal prison, an hour outside the capital, Mexico City, her mind replays the scariest 24 hours of her life.
On 8 June 2011 federal police raped, suffocated and electrocuted her in a warehouse in Mexico City. She was tortured so badly that she almost died as a result. Police wanted her to say that she belonged to one of the brutal criminal gangs causing mayhem across the country. She has been behind bars since then.
All of the 100 women held in federal prisons who reported torture or other ill-treatment to Amnesty International said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment or psychological abuse during their arrest and interrogation by municipal, state or federal police officers or members of the Army and Navy. Seventy-two said they were sexually abused during their arrest or in the hours that followed. Thirty-three reported being raped.
Amnesty International (AI)has called on the president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, to address the critical human rights situation in the country through a letter that the agency made public today. The letter, which is copied to the heads of the Interior Ministry, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador of Mexico in United Kingdom, Diego Gomez Pickering, says that Amnesty International has documented repeatedly that Mexico is rooted in impunity due to the lack of government response to allegations of human rights violations.
According to the letter penned to Peña Nieto “A crucial step is the determination of his government to ensure that law enforcement and other public officials implicated in serious human rights violations, including enforced disappearances and torture are promptly brought to justice and that victims receive compensation. As you know, these results are the exception and not the norm, “the letter signed by versa Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.”
Amnesty International released a worldwide report on torture today and described the critical situation in Mexico where, “the government argues that torture is the exception rather than the norm, but in reality abuse by police and security forces is widespread and goes unpunished.
Mexico must put into action the promises it makes to the United Nations Human Rights Council tomorrow if it is to address the dire human rights situation in the country, Amnesty International said today.
“Effective long-lasting measures have to be taken to address ongoing patterns of disappearances, torture, arbitrary detentions as well as routine attacks on men and women defending human rights, journalists and migrants. Mexico must not fail again to uphold its commitments to the international community,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
Tomorrow Mexico will announce to Human Rights Council members which of their 176 recommendations it will adopt. In 2009, during its last appearance before this human rights body, Mexico said it would implement the majority of recommendations. However, it then failed to take action in many areas to prevent the human rights crisis, which continues to this day.
At a meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, delivered a memorandum demanding an urgent list of actions to combat entrenched impunity and serious human rights violations. The meeting focused on widespread torture, the large number of disappearances, abuses against migrants and refugees, attacks on journalists and human rights defenders, and violence faced by women and indigenous peoples.
“While Mexico is an increasingly important actor on the world stage, not only in economic terms but in the field of human rights, it is failing to deliver at home. I told the President that he must demonstrate he is serious about ensuring human rights not just internationally but for all inside the country as well,” said Salil Shetty.
Human rights groups hailed on Thursday a Mexican Supreme Court decision to free a man who claimed soldiers tortured him into confessing to having played a role in a drug-related massacre. The court ruled that 28-year-old Israel Arzate Melendez’s confession wasn’t valid because he talked to soldiers rather than prosecutors, as the law requires.
The number of unsolved disappearances in Mexico constitutes a national scandal and a human rights crisis, Amnesty International said Tuesday, citing what it called a systematic failure by police and prosecutors to investigate thousands of cases that have piled up since 2006. Rupert Knox, Amnesty’s Mexico investigator, said relatives are often forced to search for missing loved ones themselves, sometimes at considerable risk.
Adding insult to injury, Knox said police and prosecutors often don’t even bother to use the information that relatives dig up. Instead, police routinely assume that the missing are caught up in Mexico’s drug cartel conflicts. “They are stigmatized, they are treated with disdain, and the typical thing is to say the victims were members of criminal gangs,” Knox said. “That is a demonstration of the negligence that has allowed this problem to grow into a national scandal and a human rights crisis.”
Gael Garcia Bernal is using his filmmaking skills to address the problem of illegal migrants in Mexico.
The Letters To Juliet star features in Six Out Of Ten, one of four short films making up The Invisibles, which highlight the plight of these “invisible victims” – foreigners travelling in dangerous terrain through his home country without legal permission.
Gael, who, with Amnesty International, aims to improve protection for the migrants, talks to three women from Honduras who are travelling in search of a better life for their families. They are taking a huge risk, as six out of 10 women who attempt the journey are sexually abused.
“The Mexican authorities must protect migrants in our country,” he said in a statement.
I heard the bursts of gunfire near my house in Monterrey as I was showering this morning. Then the ambulance sirens started wailing, and as I drove my kids to school about 20 minutes later, a convoy of green-clad soldiers, their assault rifles at the ready, sped by us. In northern Mexico, where I cover the drug war, it has become a part of life to read about, hear and even witness shootouts, but today I shuddered at the thought: what if those soldiers accidentally ever shot at me?
It was in February 2007 that Amnesty International raised concerns over Mexican President FelipeCalderon’s decision, two months earlier, to send thousands of troops across the country to controlMexico’s spiraling drug violence. Echoing worries voiced by the United Nations, the rights group warned that sending the army onto Mexican streets to do the job of the police was a bad idea. Even individual soldiers have commented to Reuters, off the record of course, that they feel very uncomfortable about their new role.
Back then, when there was still plenty of optimism about winning the war against drug cartels, many Mexicans brushed off concerns of rights abuses and the possible deaths of innocent bystanders. Washington praised Calderon for his bold move.
But almost four years on, it would seem Amnesty, the U.N. and a host of other rights groups were right.