In the context of Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s visit to Washington, we wanted to share with you a letter that Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) along with 22 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent yesterday afternoon to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton that urges the Administration to “convey to Mexico our concerns regarding its system of military jurisdiction, as well as the importance we place on compliance with the human rights requirements established by the U.S. Congress.” The letter expresses particular concern about the limited nature of the reform to Mexico’s Code of Military Justice that was proposed by President Calderon. This reform would only exclude three human rights violations – rape, torture, and forced disappearance – from military jurisdiction, and states that “such a reform would not bring Mexico into compliance with either the Merida requirements or the sentences of the Inter-American Court.” At the onset of the Merida Initiative, the U.S. Congress established that 15% of select accounts would not be released until the Secretary of State reported to Congress that the Government of Mexico was meeting four human rights requirements including “[e]nsuring that civilian prosecutors and judicial authorities are investigating and prosecuting, in accordance with Mexican and international law, members of the federal police and military forces who have been credibly alleged to have committed violations of human rights.”
WOLA lauds Congresswoman Lee and Congressman Grijalva and the other Members of Congress for their sponsorship of this letter. “At a time when the human rights violations by members the Mexican military and the Federal Police have dramatically increased, ensuring that these violations are effectively investigated and prosecuted by civilian institutions would be an important step to regain the public’s trust in Mexico’s judicial institutions and public security efforts,” affirmed Maureen Meyer, WOLA Senior Associate for Mexico and Central America. “This letter is a strong statement from members of the U.S. Congress that the 15% of funds conditioned through the Merida Initiative should be withheld until Mexico meets the human rights requirements set out in the law,” stated Meyer.
Click here to read the letter to Secretary Clinton. Please click here to see the press release issued by Congresswoman Lee.
Senior Associate for Mexico and Central America