Mexico will not be able to rein in runaway organized crime until it addresses the links between Mexican authorities and criminal groups and ends impunity for those responsible for crimes against humanity, an international justice advocate told the Guerrero State Congress.
Ina Zoon took the Open Society Foundation (OSF) Justice Initiative’s message to ground zero of Mexico’s crime-fed security crisis on August 11. She presented the foundation’s recent report on possible war crimes by the Mexican government and the Zetas crime cartel to the Guerrero legislature, Proceso reported. Guerrero, home to the resort city of Acapulco, is one of the most violent places in Mexico.
State legislator Ricardo Mejía Berdeja cited official statistics putting Guerrero’s homicide rate at 67 per 100,000 residents, compared to the national average of 17.
In her speech to the state congress, Zoon cited the impunity enjoyed by officials who commit excesses in fighting crime and the collusion of officials with criminal groups. She suggested that some high profile cases that have gone unresolved should be handled in international tribunals. Family members of the 43 disappeared students of Iguala – a city in Guerrero – were present at the congressional event. The flawed investigation of that case has been characterized as an example of the consequences of “narcopolitics,” or the corrupt ties between officials and drug cartels.
The OSF report, entitled Undeniable Atrocities: Confronting Crimes Against Humanity in Mexico, was released in June 2016. It affirms that there is evidence that assassinations, torture and forced disappearances have been committed on a systemic, large-scale level since the beginning of Mexico’s “war on drugs” in 2006.
Zoon argued that the government’s militarized security strategy targeting criminal structures — currently championed by the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto — is not enough to bring down high levels of violence in Mexico; corrupt officials must also be targeted.
InSight Crime Analysis
Mexico has come under increasing international pressure for both human rights abuses in its war on crime and official collusion with criminals. Just this week, 69 members of the US Congress signed an open letter addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry “to express concern about the ongoing human rights crisis in Mexico and the continuing lack of justice for thousands of victims.”
In June 2016, Amnesty International detailed the extensive use of torture by security forces during investigations, including “sexual violence routinely used as torture to secure ‘confessions’ from women.”
Military intervention in domestic security in Mexico has not only failed to control criminal violence, it may have proven counterproductive. Official corruption and the impunity it creates has also made matters worse. As Zoon noted, simply going after top criminals is unlikely to stop Guerrero’s spiral into violence.