On May 10, 2012, WOLA Senior Associate Maureen Meyer testified at a hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission titled “Human Rights in Mexico.” The hearing examined human rights abuses in Mexico, evaluated the status of efforts to reform Mexico’s judiciary and police to bolster human rights protections, and assessed U.S. policy on the issue. It was the first such hearing since the U.S. government began to provide significant security assistance to Mexico through the Merida Initiative in 2008.
Ms. Meyer testified on the urgent need for increased efforts to reform Mexico’s police and judicial systems. Such reforms are essential to creating rights-respecting institutions that citizens can trust. Focusing on these reforms is even more urgent given that organized criminal groups in Mexico have severely weakened the state’s ability to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law. According to Ms. Meyer’s written testimony, “The same institutional weaknesses that have allowed organized crime to flourish in the country are also at the root of increased human rights violations by Mexican officials.”
In her written testimony, Ms. Meyer outlines how the United States can constructively engage Mexico on issues of police and judicial reform. She also affirms that the U.S. government should use the leverage provided by the Merida Initiative’s human rights requirements by withholding the conditioned funds until the requirements have been met. These conditions require the Mexican government to enforce the prohibition on using testimony obtained through torture and to investigate and prosecute, in civilian jurisdiction, soldiers and police who have violated human rights.
Also testifying on the panel with Ms. Meyer were Santiago Aguirre of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center in Guerrero, Mexico and Nik Steinberg of Human Rights Watch.
The panel’s written testimonies, as well as the opening statement of Chairman McGovern, can be downloaded here.