sábado, 28 de agosto de 2010

Human Rights Watch World Report 2010 (México)

Human Rights Watch World Report 2010 (events 2009)

President Felipe Calderon has relied heavily on the armed forces to fight drugrelated
violence and organized crime. While engaging in law enforcement activities,
Mexico’s armed forces have committed serious human rights violations,
including killings, torture, rapes, and arbitrary detentions. Mexico routinely allows
the military to investigate itself through a military justice system that leads to
impunity for army abuses.
Mexico’s criminal justice system is plagued by human rights problems, such as
torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement authorities, and routinely fails to
adequately prosecute crimes. Increasing violence against journalists who report
on organized crime and government corruption has generated a climate of selfcensorship
in parts of the country.
Impunity for Military Abuses
Mexican soldiers continue to commit egregious abuses while engaged in law
enforcement activities. The number of alleged army abuses presented before
Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission increased six-fold between 2006
and 2008, and reached 559 in the first six months of 2009.
In February 2009, for example, soldiers arbitrarily detained an indigenous man in
Oaxaca for six hours, beat him, and subjected him to waterboarding. In March
soldiers detained 25 Tijuana municipal police officers at a military base where
they repeatedly beat them, administered electric shocks including to their genitals,
and asphyxiated them with plastic bags. In August soldiers detained two
men in Morelos, threatened them to death, blindfolded, and beat them.
Military authorities routinely assert jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute army
abuses. As a result, the vast majority of army abuse cases are never successfully
prosecuted. The military justice system lacks the independence necessary to
carry out reliable investigations, and its operations suffer from a general absence
of transparency. The ability of military prosecutors to investigate army abuses is
further undermined by a fear of the army, which inhibits civilian victims and witnesses
from providing information to military authorities.
Criminal Justice System
The criminal justice system routinely fails to provide justice to victims of violent
crime and human rights violations. The causes of this failure are varied and
include corruption, inadequate training and resources, and abusive policing practices
without accountability.
Torture remains a widespread problem. One perpetuating factor is the acceptance
by some judges of evidence obtained through torture and other mistreatment.
Another is the failure to investigate and prosecute most cases of torture.
Over 40 percent of prisoners in Mexico have never been convicted of a crime.
Rather, they are held in pretrial detention, often waiting years for trial. The excessive
use of pretrial detention contributes to prison overcrowding. Prison inmates
are also subject to abuses by guards. Children are often detained in poor conditions
in police stations and other institutions, and many juvenile detainees do
not have access to educational programs.
In June 2008 Mexico passed a constitutional reform that creates the basis for an
adversarial criminal justice system with oral trials, and contains measures that
are critical for promoting greater respect for fundamental rights, such as including
presumption of innocence in the constitution. Two provisions, however, violate
Mexico’s obligations under international law. The first allows prosecutors, with
judicial authorization, to detain individuals suspected of participating in organized
crime for up to 80 days before they are charged with a crime. The second
denies judges the power to decide, in cases involving offenses on a prescribed
list, whether a defendant should be provisionally released pending and during
trial. The government has eight years to implement the reform.
Impunity for “Dirty War” Crimes
During its five-year existence, the Special Prosecutor’s Office established in 2001
to investigate and prosecute abuses committed during the country’s “dirty war”
in the 1960s-1980s made very limited progress. It did not obtain a single criminal
conviction. Of the more than 600 “disappearance” cases, it filed charges in 16
and obtained indictments in nine. The office determined the whereabouts of only six “disappeared” individuals (four had been sent to psychiatric institutions and
two had been killed in detention).
After Calderon officially closed the office in 2007, the cases were transferred to
another, non-specialized unit within the Attorney General’s Office, which has not
made significant advances in the investigations.
Freedom of Expression and Information
Journalists, particularly those who have investigated drug trafficking or have been
critical of state governments, have faced harassment and attack. In July 2009, for
example, the badly beaten body of a journalist was found buried near Acapulco,
with his hands and feet tied and his head wrapped in tape. Seven Mexican journalists
have gone missing since 2005, including five who had investigated links
between local officials and organized crime. Such cases have generated a climate
of self-censorship in parts of the country.
Since 2007, defamation, libel, and slander are no longer federal criminal offenses.
However, criminal defamation laws in the states continue to be excessively
restrictive and tend to undermine freedom of expression.
A 2002 federal law on transparency and access to information and a 2007 constitutional
reform increased avenues for public scrutiny of the Mexican government.
However, progress made in promoting transparency within the federal executive
branch has not yet been entirely matched in other branches of government, in
autonomous institutions, or at the state level.
Human Rights Defenders
The United Nations has documented 128 instances of violence or intimidation
against Mexican human rights defenders since 2006, including 27 in the first half
of 2009. The most common method of intimidation has been threats to the life or
physical integrity of defenders issued through email, phone calls, or anonymous
notes left at workplaces. The list also includes 10 killings. For example, the bodies
of two defenders who allegedly had been kidnapped by police in Guerrero in
February 2009 were found several days later with visible signs of torture.
Reproductive Rights, Domestic Violence, and Sexual Abuse
Mexican laws do not adequately protect women and girls against domestic violence
and sexual abuse. Some provisions contradict international standards,
including provisions that define sanctions for some sexual offenses with reference
to the “chastity” of the victim, or penalize domestic violence only when the
victim has been battered repeatedly. Existing legal protections are often not
enforced vigorously. Girls and women who report rape or violence to the authorities
are generally met with suspicion, apathy, and disrespect. Victims are thus
often reluctant to report crimes and such underreporting undercuts pressure for
necessary legal reforms. This leads to impunity for rampant sexual and domestic
violence against women and girls.
In August 2008 the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of a Mexico City
law that legalized abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, abortion
continues to be criminalized in the rest of Mexico and during 2009 several states
attempted to incorporate the right to life of the unborn in their constitutions.
Every state allows abortion in certain specific circumstances, including after rape,
but authorities often thwart pregnant rape victims’ attempt to terminate their
imposed pregnancy by treating them dismissively and with hostility.
Labor Rights
Legitimate labor-organizing activity continues to be obstructed by collective bargaining
agreements negotiated between management and pro-management
unions. These agreements often fail to provide worker benefits beyond the minimums
mandated by Mexican legislation. Workers who seek to form independent
unions risk losing their jobs, as inadequate laws and poor enforcement generally
fail to protect them from retaliatory dismissals.
National Human Rights Commission
Mexico’s official human rights institution has provided detailed and authoritative
information on specific human rights cases and usefully documented some systemic
obstacles to human rights progress. But, despite its broad mandate and
immense resources, it has routinely failed to follow up by pressing government institutions to remedy the abuses it has documented and to promote reforms
needed to prevent them. In November 2009 the Senate appointed a new president
to the Commission for a five-year term.
Key International Actors
The Merida Initiative is a multi-year aid package agreed upon in 2007 through
which the United States would provide Mexico US$1.12 billion to address the
increasing violence and corruption of heavily armed drug cartels. When authorizing
the funds, the US Congress decided that most of the aid for Mexican security
forces could be made available immediately, but that 15 percent of most funds
would only be available after the US secretary of state reports to Congress that
the Mexican government has met four human rights requirements: ensuring that
civilian prosecutors and judicial authorities investigate and prosecute federal
police and military officials who violate basic rights; consulting regularly with
Mexican civil society organizations regarding the implementation of the Merida
Initiative; enforcing the prohibition on the use of testimony obtained through torture
or other ill-treatment; and improving the transparency and accountability of
police forces.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of setting these conditions was undermined
when in August 2009 the US State Department issued its first report on the
Merida human rights requirements, which does not assess whether Mexico met
the requirements and does not show that Mexico is ensuring that civilian authorities
are investigating army abuses. Congress authorized the release of a portion
of the withheld funds but requested additional information that should be included
in the next State Department report.
During 2009 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights sent four cases
concerning military abuses in Guerrero to the Inter-American Court, which will
issue decisions that are binding on Mexico. The cases involve an enforced disappearance
during the “dirty war,” the arbitrary detention and torture of two environmentalists
in 1999, and the rape of two indigenous women in 2002.
In 2009 the United Nations Human Rights Council conducted Universal Periodic
Review of Mexico. The Mexican government supported most recommendations to improve its human rights practices, but did not accept those questioning its use
of military courts to prosecute army abuses.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights maintains an in-country
office that provides valuable documentation of human rights problems and recommendations
for addressing them, such as its 2009 report on the situation of
human rights defenders in Mexico.

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