Washington, D.C.—On June 25, 2012, a group of U.S. and Mexican NGOs, including the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), sent a memo to the U.S. Department of State urging it to recognize the dire human right situation in Mexico. The Department of State is due to report to Congress on whether Mexico has complied with the requirements set in the Merida Initiative that expressly condition some funds on proof that Mexico has made improvements in the area of human rights. The organizations’ memo evaluates Mexico’s compliance with these requirements and finds that the Mexican government has made limited progress on meeting these human rights conditions.
The U.S. Congress conditions 15% of the Merida Initiative’s security assistance funds to Mexico on improvements in human rights in several priority areas. Each year, the U.S. State Department is required to certify that the Mexican government has made sufficient progress in addressing these priority areas.
The State Department’s annual certification report offers a vital opportunity to provide a thorough, accurate assessment of these important human rights benchmarks, and to press for measurable progress on the part of the Mexican government. Unfortunately, as the memo notes, “…the Mexican government has failed to make meaningful progress in the identified priority areas.”
It is true that the Mexican government has taken some steps to comply with the human rights requirements, such as the transfer of a handful of individual cases of abuse out of military jurisdiction and the passage of protocols regulating the use of force by both military and police forces. However, the extremely limited number of cases of abuse by security forces in which there has been adequate investigations demonstrates that these are isolated efforts that have not changed overall patterns of abuse and impunity in the country.
WOLA and our partners encourage the State Department to objectively and accurately assess Mexico’s compliance with the human rights requirements in its forthcoming report. Concluding that Mexico is complying with the human rights requirements in the Merida Initiative—in the face of clear evidence to the contrary—will only undermine the credibility of U.S. foreign policy commitments. It would also weaken the effectiveness of human rights safeguards in U.S. foreign assistance and efforts to address the serious problem of abusive security forces and near-total impunity in Mexico.
Amnesty International, Ciudadanos en Apoyo a los Derechos Humanos (CADHAC), Fundar, Human Rights Watch, Latin America Working Group, Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh), Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Center, Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan,” and the Washington Office on Latin America
Director of Communications