In its annual report, Amnesty International criticized Mexico for human rights abuses committed during President Calderon’s militarized response to organized crime, a war which left more than 60,000 people dead and some 150,000 displaced.
The report noted that while organized criminal groups are responsible for the majority of killings seen during Calderon’s six-year term, they often acted in collusion with public officials.
An ongoing problem is abuses committed by the security forces, especially when carrying out anti-crime operations, the report stated. While Mexico’s National Humans Rights Commission registered 1,921 complaints against the military and 802 complaints against the Federal Police, only eight members of the military were convicted in military courts in 2012. There is no available information on the number of police prosecuted and/or convicted for human rights crimes, the report added.
Arbitrary detention under the so-called “arraigo” law — which allows authorities to holds suspects for up to 80 days without charge — is routinely used by prosecutors at both the state and federal level, and represents a serious abuse of human rights, the report said. Torture is also regularly used to obtain confessions from suspects, with the National Human Rights Commission registering 1,662 complaints last year alone.
The report also criticized Mexico for the security forces’ excessive use of force and extra-judicial killings in confrontations with criminal groups and for collusion between public officials and criminals in abusing migrants.
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Amnesty International’s assessment makes a strong case that Mexico is sorely lacking in its commitment to human rights. It also stated that the US could arguably have done more to push Mexico in the right direction. As noted by Amnesty, in 2011 the US State Department released some $36 million in specific aid to Mexico, even though Mexico was not meant to receive these funds without meeting several human rights criteria.
Amnesty International is not the only international human rights watchdog to level critiques against Mexico’s flawed justice system. Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch openly called for the arraigo law to be abolished, a move which, as InSight Crime has argued, would make sense both in terms of protecting human rights and fighting organized crime more effectively.