Washington, D.C.—Today, 82 Members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing concern about the human rights situation in Mexico and asserting that, rather than isolated incidents, the 2014 cases of the 43 forcibly disappeared students in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero and the killing of 22 young people in Tlatlaya, Mexico State are part of an extensive pattern of grave human rights violations.
As the letter, sponsored by House Committee on Foreign Affairs member Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and co-signed by 81 Representatives, states: “These two cases are not isolated incidents in Mexico; rather they illustrate a broader pattern of grave human rights violations in the country, including cases of torture, arbitrary detentions, kidnapping, and extra-judicial executions.”
The letter comes just days after the State Department issued its 2014 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Mexico, which concluded that, “Impunity for human rights abuses remained a problem throughout the country with extremely low rates of prosecution for all forms of crime.”
In addition, the Congressional letter expresses support for the work of the group of international experts that was selected by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Mexican government to review the case of the 43 disappeared students, provide technical assistance on the investigation, and present recommendations to the authorities. The experts’ final report is expected to be published in the coming months.
This is the first public statement from the United States House of Representatives regarding human rights in Mexico since 43 students were forcibly disappeared in Mexico on September 26, 2014. A bipartisan group of 14 senators had sent a letter to Secretary Kerry on November 25, 2014 regarding the same case.
The letter also notes that Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission has determined that, after Mexican soldiers killed 22 people in Tlatlaya in June 2014, they subsequently altered the scene of the crime in order to make it appear that all were killed in a confrontation, and that at least 12 of the individuals had been extrajudicially executed.
The letter was endorsed by several U.S. human rights groups, including the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a research and advocacy organization that works to advance human rights and reduce violence in the Americas.
“This is a strong showing of support from the House of Representatives. Mexico is going through a human rights crisis and this letter clearly illustrates that there is widespread concern about what is happening in the country in both the halls of Congress and across the United States,” said Maureen Meyer, Senior Associate for WOLA’s Mexico program. “If these cases and others continue to be met with impunity, the United States should question the effectiveness of providing Mexico’s security forces with more training and equipment without seriously addressing concerns about corruption, the rule of law, and strengthening mechanisms to hold Mexican officials accountable for the human rights violations they commit.”
Click here to read the letter.
Click here for Congressman Lowenthal´s press release.
WOLA Director of Communications
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