GENEVA – The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed “great concern” Friday over the 1,000 minors killed over the past four years in connection with the Mexican military’s war on drug cartels and organized crime.
In a report on Mexico, which took into account a presentation from the Mexican government, the committee also denounced violations of children’s rights and a “lack of investigation of crimes perpetrated by military personnel.”
The members of the committee – part of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights – also expressed concern that Mexico could not provide information on the use of minors by non-governmental armed groups.
According to the report, Mexico has “not undertaken measures to prevent the recruitment of children by non-state groups,” including paramilitary groups, organized crime groups and security companies.
Separately, the panel said it is worried that children who study at military schools are given military status and therefore subject to the Military Code of Justice if they break the law.
It also cited reports about the use of children at military schools in the fight against drug trafficking, “which seriously jeopardized the rights and lives of children.”
The panel also questioned why military schools are run exclusively by the defense ministry.
Mexico’s drug war has claimed more than 34,000 lives since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon gave the military the leading role in battling the country’s powerful drug cartels.
Mexican and international human rights groups have criticized Calderon’s reliance on the army for law-enforcement duties, citing concerns about excessive use of force and impunity for soldiers who commit rights violations, but the president says the military must take over until corruption among local police has been rooted out.
Calderon has downplayed the impact of organized crime on the lives of ordinary Mexicans.
He said last year that criminals account for more than 90 percent of those killed in drug-related violence in Mexico, with the remainder of the fatalities consisting of police officers, army soldiers and civilians. EFE