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The Human Rights Situation in México

Commission of the Comité Cerezo in Europe (June 19, 2006)

Wednesday 21 June 2006, by Comité Cerezo México

The word “strategy” is used in the title because we have concluded that there is systematic planning of serious human rights violations by the Mexican State. In other words, the State is fully conscious of the actions that it takes against human rights defenders and different actors who endeavor to exercise these rights effectively.

The following conclusions are based on conclusive, concrete cases that are detailed in Appendix 1 of this document and on the work done by the Comité Cerezo (Cerezo Committee), a human rights organization in Mexico. (In addition, three video documentaries are included in Appendix 2 as a complement to this presentation and to the first Appendix.)
The international political strategy of the Mexican State:

the face it shows in public

From 2001 to 2006, the Mexican government has been recognized for inviting the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights in Mexico to establish an office in the country; for inviting the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to hold a session in the country, which has occurred at least once; for ratifying the Treaty of Rome; for striving to implement and apply the Istanbul Protocol in conjunction with the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights in Mexico; for creating several special prosecutors and institutions to deal with the issues of the women murdered in Ciudad Juárez, repression in the 70s and 80s, and crimes and human rights violations involving public government officials; and for inviting all the offices of Special Procedures of the old UN Human Rights Commission to Mexico.

A consequence of the Mexican State’s international political strategy

The positive recognition accorded by various governments, entities, and institutions with regards to human rights issues has allowed it to develop an internal strategy based on the systematic violations of human rights, thereby incurring the lowest possible economic and political costs in the eyes of the international community.
The internal political strategy of the Mexican State with regards to human rights: the face it tries to hide from the
international community

The forceful application of State terror or terrorism involves the use of the following methods, some of which are considered crimes against humanity by the Comité Cerezo:

1. Torture by means of rape and sexual abuse against women and the subsequent isolation of the victims in order to prevent them from filing charges

2. Prohibition of access by qualified medical personnel, independent experts, defense lawyers trusted by those arrested and by their family members, with the intention of covering up the serious human rights violations perpetrated on them

3. Physical and psychological torture and cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment

4. Violation of due process

5. The utilization of selective repression, as exemplified in the case of the Cerezo Contreras brothers (August 13, 2001), the extrajudicial execution of the renowned human rights defense lawyer Digna Ochoa y Plácido on October 19, 2001 and of the lawyer Griselda Tirado in Puebla, and the harassment and death threats against human rights organizations and defenders, such as the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center.

6. The recent utilization of massive repression, including arbitrary arrests; illegal imprisonment; physical and psychological torture; the cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of peaceful demonstrators during a demonstration against the EU-LAC Summit on May 28, 2004, with no access to justice whatsoever.

The case of the town of San Salvador Atenco (May 3 and 4, 2006), resulting in more than 200 people illegally arrested, some of whom were townspeople who had not participated in any way in the acts of which they are accused and most of whom were subject to cruel and inhuman treatment or physical and psychological torture and sexual abuse or rape; the police murder of a 14 year old boy and a university student who died in the hospital several days later; warrantless search and seizure; charges brought for generic offenses, expressly prohibited by law: and a media campaign waged by responsible authorities designed to hide and distort the repression.

The violent evacuation of teachers in the state of Oaxaca (June 14, 2006), resulting in 92 wounded, one miscarriage due to poisoning by gases used by the police, and between 4 and 11 deaths, yet to be confirmed.

7. The incarceration of political prisoners, prisoners of conscience, and prisoners unjustly held for political motives in maximum security prisons, where human rights are systematically violated with impunity and prisoners are subjected to continuous torture, the absence of guaranteed rights in their trials, isolation, unjustified punishments, harassment of visiting family members, and the utilization of clinical criminological profiles to keep them in these penitentiaries.

8. The expulsion of more than 300 activists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), as well as legal persecution, harassment, death threats, and attempted murder by paramilitary groups in collusion with governmental and university authorities.

The Comité Cerezo, a Mexican human rights organization, considers that the previously enumerated facts lead to the following conclusions:

1. The existence of a pattern of human rights violations systematically planned and applied by the Mexican State in order to create an atmosphere of terror and panic in the society

2. Total impunity for State officials responsible for human rights violations

3. A repressive strategy of human rights violations that has gone from bad to worse; in other words, there has been an increase in human rights violations, at first characterized by sophisticated torture and selected repression, as in the case of the Cerezo Contreras brothers or the assassination of the human rights defender Digna Ochoa, and more recently by the use of the Federal Preventive Police (PFP), military personnel trained in the police functions of the “recuperation” or evacuation of mining facilities during the Lázaro Cárdenas strike in the state of Michoacán, resulting in the deaths of two miners from bullet wounds, or in the assault on the town of San Salvador Atenco in the state of Mexico, characterized by arbitrary arrests, illegal imprisonment, torture including rape and sexual abuse against the majority of the women arrested, and violations of due process, such as the unlawful expulsion of foreigners.

The facts cited are a basis for affirming that the intention of the Mexican State is to deceive the international community: while it outwardly presumes to respect human rights and signs treaties that protect them, in practice these human rights are violated systematically and intentionally in the country.

The Comité Cerezo encourages the new United Nations Human Rights Council:

1. to conduct an exhaustive review of the human rights situation in Mexico,

2. to compile information from the diverse non governmental organizations engaged in documenting human rights violations in Mexico, and

3. to depose the representative and ambassador of the Mexican State as president of the new United Nations Human Rights Council, given that the State he represents makes political use of its position, giving the impression to the international society that the Mexican State is being rewarded for its efforts in the area of human rights.

The Cerezo Committee also encourages the member countries of the European Union to review the human rights situation in Mexico and to consider the possibility of using its own human rights amendment applicable to a state with which it has economic relations in order to persuade the Mexican State to respect human rights.

Commission of the Comité Cerezo in the inaugural session of the new UN Human Rights Council

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