Mexico: Calder贸n to The Hague?

Mexican human rights attorney Netza铆 Sandoval on Nov. 25 filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague asking the court to investigate human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity by the security forces under President Felipe Calder贸n’s campaign against the drug cartels. The complaint, backed by 23,000 signatures, names 470 cases of human rights abuses by government forces since 2006, and estimates 40,000 dead in drug-related violence. The complaint also names Public Security Minister Genaro Garc铆a Luna, Defense Secretary Guillermo Galv谩n and fugitive Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquin Guzm谩n AKA “El Chapo” (long held to be secretly collaborating with the Calder贸n administration).

Sandoval said rights defenders have exhausted their recourses within Mexico: “The Mexican legal system does not specifically define these crimes, so there is no way to prosecute those who commit them. Moreover, there is no political will to investigate the widespread violence.” Mexico’s Governance Secretariat issued a statement dismissing Sandoval’s efforts, saying “the public safety policy that has been implemented by no means constitutes an international crime.” It asserted that the government’s actions “are aimed at stopping criminal organizations and protecting all citizens.”

The move comes just as the G20 has named Calder贸n as its chair for the coming year.

Before the complaint was filed, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said in remarks at the Federal Judicial Institute in Mexico City that The Hague would likely not take up the case. “To open a case there would have to be war crimes or crimes against humanity,” he said. “We don鈥檛 judge political decisions or political responsibility.” (Jurist, Nov. 27; NYT, Nov. 26; AP, Nov. 25; IPS, Nov. 24; The Guardian, Nov. 10; LAHT, Nov. 4)

Days after Moreno Ocampo made his remarks, the bound and gagged bodies of 26 men were found in abandoned vehicles in Guadalajara, Mexico鈥檚 second largest city, in Jalsico state. The corpses were discovered Nov. 24 stuffed in three vehicles left near the Millennium Arches, a major city landmark; each of the dead had been shot in the head.

The discovery came less than 24 hours after a similar one in downtown Culiac谩n, capital of Sinaloa state, where the charred remains of 17 men were left in two pick-up trucks. While some were wearing bullet-proof vests, several have been identified as seemingly random civilians鈥攁 baker, a truck driver, a soft-drink vendor, a dental technician. Four bodies were found a few hours later in the Sinaloa town of Calomatillo, and another three in Salvador Alvarado. (AP, Nov. 25; WP, EFE, Nov. 24)

See our last posts on Mexico, the narco wars and the human rights crisis.

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