MEXICO CITY – Police used excessive force in confrontations with protesters in the southern state of Oaxaca that left seven people dead, Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) said in a report presented on Wednesday.
The CNDH reviewed the conduct of police who deployed on June 19, 2016, in the towns of Nochixtlan, Huitzo and Hacienda Blanca y Viguera to break up roadblocks mounted by members of the militant CNTE teachers union.
Both federal and state officers committed “grave violations” of human rights, CNDH chairman Luis Raul Gonzalez told a press conference in Mexico City.
Seven civilians were killed and 453 others wounded, while 106 cops were hurt. Nearly 50 people, including four police officers, suffered gunshot wounds.
The security forces failed to follow their own official protocols, “particularly in regard to the legitimate use of force and the necessity to prioritize the use of non-violent mechanisms and techniques,” Gonzalez said.
He also pointed to poor coordination among the various police forces involved in the operation and to the lack of a “clear chain of command.”
“Lethal force was employed in a disorderly, arbitrary way and on the basis of the individual judgment of each police officer,” Gonzalez said.
The CNDH also had criticism for the Attorney General’s Office investigation of the violence in Oaxaca.
More than year after the events, the AG Office has yet to interview victims and witnesses, according to the report, which urges the relevant federal and state entities to adopt a list of 26 recommendations aimed at ensuring “truth and justice.”
The commission called on authorities to address socio-economic problems in Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s poorest states, and make restitution to victims.
Teachers affiliated with the CNTE, which has more than 200,000 members, pursued strikes and protests for much of last year to demand the repeal of a 2013 education overhaul that includes regular evaluations of teachers and ends longstanding union privileges.
The union contends that the evaluations are punitive because they fail to take into account that schools in rural areas often lack electricity and even textbooks.