Mexico: HRW blasts National Human Rights Commission

In a new report, Human Rights Watch charges that Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) is adept at documenting abuses—but has failed to prevent them. Said HRW Americas director Jose Miguel Vivanco: “While it does a decent job documenting abuses and identifying problems, it doesn’t take crucial steps needed to bring about change. The (commission) should be a catalyst for human rights progress, not merely a chronicler of the status quo.” The 128-page report focuses on the police crackdown on peasant protesters at Atenco village, the rapes and killings of villagers by troops in Michoacán and Coahuila states, and the unsolved murders of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juarez. Too often, the report found, the commission merely recommend fixes to government agencies and then failed to check if they were ever implemented. The study found that backroom deals remain the norm. (Houston Chronicle, Feb. 13)

The report also noted that the CNDH did an exhaustive investigation into a state crackdown on anti-globalization protests in Guadalajara in May 2004, determining that Jalisco state police had arbitrarily detained 70 people and illegally held them incommunicado. They also found that at least 55 of the detainees were subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment, including 19 who were tortured into signing self-incriminating statements. The governor of Jalisco at the time, Francisco RamĂ­rez Acuña, simply rejected the report, saying he had “no obligation whatsoever to respond.” The CNDH said it regretted the governor’s position but took no other action. Two years later, President Felipe CalderĂłn named RamĂ­rez Acuña the Interior Minister (GobernaciĂłn Secretary), who just resigned in January. (NYT, Feb. 14)

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