Mexico: abuse charges mount in Atenco case

Top officials from Mexico’s official National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) say that 23 cases of sexual abuse and rape have been documented following the violent clash between protesters and police in San Salvador Atenco. At a press conference, CNDH inspector Susana Thalia Pedroza said that experts had gathered medical opinions, videos and photographs so that “no one can say that these women are lying.” Pedroza, along with CNDH head Jose Luis Soberanes, said there were 16 cases of women being molested by police, and seven cases of rape. Four of the women were foreigners who were deported shortly after being arrested. The women were among more than 200 people detained on May 3 and 4 in the protests outside Mexico City. The CNDH has received 211 complaints regarding the incident, including sexual abuse, cruel and degrading treatment, property damage, illegal seizures, robbery, and threats. (El Universal, May 23)

Mexico state Gov. Enrique Pena Nieto has ordered an investigation into the claims of sexual violence. (APRO, May 16) Eight officers are still being held for trial. (El Universal, May 18) But activists have taken accusations of sexual abuse to the United Nations, saying they do not trust local authorities. The National Women’s Forum, representing 20 women’s groups, handed a document detailing rape charges by seven women and sexual abuse charges from another 16 to the Mexico City office of the UN Commission on Human Rights. El Universal, May 18

A Mexico state investigation has also determined that the Javier Cortes, the 14-year-old boy who lost his life in the protests, was shot from just 70 centimeters (less than 28 inches) away. (La Jornada, May 18)

The charges come just as Human Rights Watch has released a report acknowledging a new openness in Mexico but protesting a failure to really address ongoing human rights concerns. HRW complained that the theme of human rights “has been totally absent” from the campaigns of the top three presidential contenders. (El Universal, May 18)

All sources online at Chiapas95

See our last post on the Mexico crisis.