WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

20 Dec 2018 | Press Release

As Mexico’s New President Takes Office, Members of Congress Emphasize Human Rights in U.S.-Mexico Relationship

Washington, DC—In a letter to Mexico’s new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador—sponsored by the co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) and made public today—12 Members of Congress expressed their ongoing support for bilateral cooperation on human rights and rule of law issues. Coming just two weeks after López Obrador assumed the presidency, the letter demonstrates important congressional support for prioritizing human rights in the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship, according to research and advocacy group the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

“López Obrador takes office at a time when Mexico faces the enormous challenges of record levels of violence, rampant corruption and impunity, and widespread human rights abuses,” said Maureen Meyer, WOLA Director for Mexico and Migrant Rights. “The new government has a critical opportunity to turn the page on Mexico’s spiraling human rights and security crisis, and the United States should support these efforts.”

The letter recognizes the need for both the U.S. and Mexican governments to work together to confront challenges at the border, while also highlighting several areas where U.S. engagement could help support Mexico’s efforts to address corruption, strengthen rule of law, and implement reforms to its justice system. One key area for potential U.S. engagement would involve support for the country’s transition to an independent, autonomous National Prosecutor’s Office.“We believe the new office provides the framework for improving domestic investigations into corruption, torture, and other grave human rights violations, and for holding accountable the public officials, security forces, and criminal organizations that perpetrate these abuses,” reads the letter.

According to the letter, other areas of potential cooperation include support for Mexico’s efforts to protect journalists and human rights defenders, as well as engagement on foreign policy issues such as the humanitarian and political crisis in Venezuela, the human rights situation in Nicaragua, and regional migration flows. The letter also expresses U.S. support for efforts to “improve Mexico’s forensic capacity to process and identify thousands of remains that have been found in clandestine and mass graves throughout the country, and to investigate and hold accountable the perpetrators of crimes related to these cases.”

“López Obrador came to power with a large mandate to right the wrongs of the past and bring truth and justice to the families of thousands of disappeared persons and other victims of grave human rights violations,” said Meyer. “As the new administration works to bring a new chapter of peace and security to Mexico, the U.S.-Mexico relationship should prioritize support for efforts to strengthen human rights and the rule of law.”