CAIRO – Mexico’s security forces committed human rights violations and soldiers are enjoying immunity in those cases, a Human Rights Watch, or HRW, representative said Sunday during the presentation of its annual report in Cairo.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon is using the military to fight drug traffickers and other organized crime groups, but the armed forces are not well-trained for police actions and enjoy impunity when they commit abuses, HRW Communications director Emma Daly said.
“We have figures that show that violence has increased horrifically in Mexico in recent years and that there is no system to judge the military in a way where there is justice,” Daley said at the headquarters of the journalists’ union in the Egyptian capital.
“There exists absolute impunity in Mexico for the military,” who, with the system of military justice, are never brought to trial, which fosters the continuation of “abuses because there is no way to stop them,” Daley said.
The efforts of the Mexican authorities to combat organized crime, according to the HRW report, have led to a significant increase in murders, torture and other abuses by the security forces, which are only making “the climate of lawlessness and fear worse in many parts of the country.”
Among the human rights violations committed by the armed forces, according to the report, are killings, torture and forced disappearances.
One piece of proof that the soldiers who have committed human rights violations against civilians are not being brought to justice is, HRW says, the fact that the military prosecutor’s office opened more than 3,600 investigations of these cases between 2007 and June 2011 but just 15 soldiers were convicted during that period.
The main people affected by those attacks are journalists, human rights defenders and migrants.
Journalists are more and more frequently the target of “violence and intimidation,” HRW said, adding that between 2000 and September 2011 74 reporters were murdered, eight of them last year.
The hundreds of thousands of migrants who cross Mexico annually suffer serious abuses, including physical and sexual assault, HRW said.
In general, the Mexican judicial system fails to provide justice for these victims of violent crimes or human rights violations, the HRW report said.
One of the main violations, the report said, is the torture of detainees, a problem that persists because some judges accept the confessions obtained as a result of that pressure.
Mexican law does not adequately protect women and girls from domestic violence and sexual abuse, the human rights group said.
During the presentation of the report, which was carried out for the first time in Cairo, HRW made special reference to the so-called Arab Spring and called on all democratic countries to thoroughly immerse themselves in the transformational process and abandon the traditional complacency with which they have viewed the dictatorships of the region.