Nieto, Mexico's human rights ombudsman talked about the consequences of fighting violence with violence.">
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News > Latin America

Mexico's Human Rights Record 'Unfavorable': Ombudsman

  • Mexico's human rights ombudsman Luis Raul Gonzalez Perez addressed President Enrique Peña Nieto during an official meeting regarding the 2017 human rights report. March 28, 2018.

    Mexico's human rights ombudsman Luis Raul Gonzalez Perez addressed President Enrique Peña Nieto during an official meeting regarding the 2017 human rights report. March 28, 2018. | Photo: EFE

Published 29 March 2018
Opinion

In a meeting with President Peña Nieto, Mexico's human rights ombudsman talked about the consequences of fighting violence with violence.

Mexico's human rights record is “unfavorable” and instances of "violence, impunity, and corruption" are on the increase national ombudsman Luis Raul Gonzalez Perez told President Enrique Peña Nieto in a meeting Wednesday.

Pointing to cases like Chalchihuapan, Iguala, Tanhuato, Apatzingán, Tlatlaya, and Nochixtlán, Perez said that these abuses have gotten worse during the current federal administration's time in office.

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Perez presented the 2017 Human Rights National Commission (CNDH) report at the Los Pinos, Mexico's presidential residence, in which the human rights violations since Peña Nieto took office in 2012 were documented and described as some of the worst in Mexico's recent history.

In a 30 minutes speech, the ombudsman talked about the high levels of violence against women, journalists and migrants in the country, and said that during Peña Nieto's administration “Mexico hasn't experienced a meaningful and objective change towards greater respect and validity of human rights, neither our democratic rule of law has been consistently strengthened.”

He also chastised the administration for failing to improve the already harsh conditions of millions of Mexicans, which live under constant “insecurity and violence, impunity and corruption, inequality and poverty.”

During Peña Nieto's administration, some of the worst human rights violations in Mexico's history took place. These incidents include; Chalchihuapan, Iguala, Tanhuato, Apatzingan, Tlatlaya, and Nochixtlan and involving both state forces and criminal organizations.

“These are only some of the most representative names that mark the 2012-2018 administration in a critical moment for human rights,” said Gonzalez Perez.

In 2014 members of the San Bernardino Chalchihuapan community blocked roads to demand the reopening of the civil registry offices in the area, which left about 600 without the service when they were closed. State forces answered violently and killed a boy. The responsible policemen were in prison for a few months, while the protesters remained imprisoned much longer.

One of the most well known human rights violations in Mexico during time would have been the kidnapping and disappearance of 43 students, who were abducted by the police in Iguala in 2014 and handed them over to a local criminal organization, alleged with the help of the army. They have been missing since then.

Shortly before, the military ambushed a group of alleged cartel members in a warehouse in Tlatlaya, killing almost everyone inside. The military said the criminals died during a clash, but survivors and witnesses claim that innocent people were among the victims and deny any clash, saying instead that they were executed.

“The answer to violence and insecurity is not reducing or vanishing rights and liberties, neither in the indiscriminate use of the rope and arbitrary enforcement of the law,” said Gonzalez Perez. “In past days you [Enrique Peña Nieto] said that it would be naïve and negligent to expect the State to give up its use. It's true, but it's also true that facts show it's a mistake to think that the use of force, regardless of its legitimacy, should be the only state´s answer towards violence and insecurity it faces.”

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Gonzalez Perez said that the government is defaulting to violence to fight violence instead of focusing on the real reasons that cause it. “Violence has shown to be very little profitable investment with a high cost for everyone.”

He also noted that Mexico had created the necessary legal framework in respect of human rights and prevention of torture and abductions, but warned that institutions should have the means required to enforce these laws.

President Peña Nieto pointed out that the human rights legal framework in Mexico has improved with new laws regarding the prevention and sanctioning of torture, kidnappings and youth protection, as well as a new civilian and military criminal codes.

“Having an appropriate legislation is essential, but not enough,” said Peña Nieto.

The human rights ombudsman said that Mexican authorities are usually very welcoming of the CNDH recommendations, but that they are rarely followed up by actions or investigations.

“It would be a very positive sign of coherence, responsibility, and commitment to human rights if the respective recommendations are taken care of by the administration before it ends,” said Gonzalez Perez.

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