Mexico: human rights groups investigate

Irene Khan, general secretary of the UK-based human rights organization Amnesty International (AI), is scheduled to visit Mexico July 30-Aug. 5 for what AI calls a “high-level working visit” to address its concerns about human rights violations in Mexico. The group’s concerns include reports of sexual assaults on women prisoners by police agents during the repression of demonstrations in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico state in May 2006; the government’s failure to solve the murders of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, over the last 15 years; and the repression of anti-globalization protesters in Guadalajara, Jalisco, in May 2004.

Khan’s visit is to include an interview with Mexican president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa and a July 31 trip to Oaxaca, where the state government is accused of repeated human rights abuses. On July 25 the Mexican daily La Jornada reported that Jose Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas division of the US-based Human Rights Watch, had telephoned Oaxaca governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz to urge an “exhaustive and impartial investigation of the reports of the excessive use of force and arbitrary detentions by police agents” at a July 16 protest in Oaxaca city. (LJ, July 29)

On July 20 the federal government signed an agreement to pay a total of 725,000 pesos (about $66,000) to surviving members of a family that was attacked by soldiers in Sinaloa de Leyva municipality, Sinaloa state, on the night of May 31-June 1. Five family members were killed—two young women and three children under eight—and three were wounded. Military sources say that 19 soldiers, including three officers, remain in custody in Mazatlan while the army continues a criminal investigation. (LJ, July 23)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 29

See our last posts on Mexico, Atenco, Oaxaca and the human rights crisis.