With the June 2008 enactment of the Merida Initiative, a US security assistance package for Mexico, the U.S. Congress recognized the Mexican government’s urgent need to make substantive progress in its respect for fundamental human rights within the framework of its security operations. As part of the Initiative, Congress stipulated that 15% of specific funding categories within the Initiative would not be released until the U.S. Department of State reported that the Mexican government was meeting four human rights requirements, including investigating and prosecuting human rights abuses committed by the military and federal police.
As the State Department prepares to issue its first report to the U.S. Congress, it is imperative that they recognize the deeply troubling human rights violations happening in Mexico, particularly military abuses against the civilian population. Mexico has failed to make substantive progress in investigating and prosecuting human rights abuses by these security bodies, and reports of human rights violations by soldiers received by Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission have jumped from 182 in 2006 to 1,230 in 2008.
The Washington Office on Latin America, the Latin America Working Group, the “Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez” Human Rights Center, Fundar Center for Analysis and Research, and the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center have closely monitored the human rights situation in Mexico and US-Mexico security cooperation. We are deeply troubled that cases of human rights violations committed by the Mexican military against civilians continue to be transferred to the notoriously opaque military justice system. This system effectively ensures that these crimes remain in impunity. Given the Mexican government’s failure in its obligation to investigate and sanction those responsible for human rights violations, we believe the United States government should not release to Mexico the portion of Merida Initiative funding withheld under the Initiative’s human rights reporting requirements.
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