Washington D.C. — Today the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) joins with seven other leading human rights groups in Mexico and the United States in calling on the U.S. government to refrain from reporting that Mexico has met human rights requirements laid out in the Merida Initiative aid package. In a joint memorandum to the State Department, the groups also object to providing Merida Initiative assistance to the Mexican military.
Since the Merida Initiative began in FY2008, the U.S. Congress set conditions on 15 percent of the funds allocated to Mexican security forces, making them subject to State Department requirements to report that Mexico has made substantial progress on important human rights issues. “Withholding these funds would send a clear message that the United States condemns the grave human rights violations committed in Mexico," said Maureen Meyer, senior associate for Mexico at WOLA."Mexico needs to confront the alarming levels of crime in the country, but violating human rights will only generate more insecurity, not reduce it."
In the memo, the organizations point to the lack of progress in Mexico on human rights issues. "Our research and documentation, as well as the work done by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the U.N. Committee on Enforced Disappearances, illustrate that the Mexican government has failed to make sufficient progress on the human rights priorities identified by Congress in its assistance to Mexico," the eight co-signing groups affirm. In addition to WOLA, these include Amnesty International; the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center (Centro PRODH); the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center; Citizens in Support of Human Rights A.C. (CADHAC); Fundar, Center for Analysis and Research; the Latin America Working Group (LAWG) and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.
"In general, providing Mexican security forces with more training and equipment while corruption and abuses continue unchecked does little to improve security in Mexico, and is likely to continue to exacerbate an already dire human rights situation." the memo reads. "We reiterate that the path to citizen security for Mexico is not that of a logic of war, but rather that of respecting human rights, strengthening civilian institutions, enacting true police and judicial reform, punishing corruption, and consolidating the rule of law and a representative and accountable democracy."
The memo refers to several emblematic cases, including the enforced disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa and the massacre in Tlatlaya. It also provides examples of the Mexican government's failure to investigate and punish officials for human rights violations, enforce prohibitions on the use of torture, and search for victims of enforced disappearance, all of which clearly demonstrate why the State Department should not issue a favorable report to Congress in order to obligate the withheld funds.
This memo comes shortly after 82 members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing concern about the human rights situation in Mexico, as well as asserting that the cases of Ayotzinapa and Tlatlaya "are not isolated incidents in Mexico; rather they illustrate a broader pattern of grave human rights violations in the country."
To read a summary of the memorandum, click here.
To read the full memorandum, please click here.
Director of Communications, WOLA
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