IACHR

Press Release

IACHR Expresses Concern regarding Allegations of Law Enforcement Participation in Acts of Violence in Mexico

August 7, 2015

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Director
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9001
mrivero@oas.org

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern regarding allegations of law enforcement participation in acts of serious violence in Mexico.

According to information the Commission has received, on July 7, 2015, seven people were kidnapped from a house in the municipality of Calera, in Zacatecas. The information available indicates that military personnel are accused of being responsible for the disappearances of these individuals, whose bodies were later found in an advanced state of decomposition, with shots to the back of the neck.

Moreover, the Commission received information indicating that, also during the month of July, in the indigenous community of Santa María Ostula, Michoacán, federal, state, and municipal forces carried out a joint operation in which two people lost their lives, including a 12-year-old boy, and others were wounded. The information available indicates that the national and state human rights ombudsmen sent a group to visit and investigate the actions of the federal, state, and municipal authorities. People in the communities of El Duin and La Ixtapilla organized protests against what had happened and, according to the information received, members of the military reportedly used tear gas and fired indiscriminately on people, injuring several individuals, including a 6-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy.

Finally, the IACHR received information indicating that in June 2015, the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Centro Prodh) unveiled the report “One Year after Tlatlaya: The Order Was to Kill.” The report examines the events of June 30, 2014, and claims that between 12 and 22 individuals supposedly tied to drug trafficking were executed arbitrarily by alleged members of law enforcement at a warehouse in the community of Cuadrilla Nueva, in the municipality of Tlatlaya, in southern Mexico state. In addition, according to the report, these executions took place following an order, which reportedly came from the Ministry of National Defense, “to kill criminals” so as to “reduce violence.” For its part, on October 21, 2014, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) issued Recommendation 51/2014, in which it determined that there were grounds to believe that military personnel arbitrarily killed individuals who had already surrendered in Tlatlaya, after a confrontation in which—according to the Ministry of National Defense—a soldier had been wounded and three women who had been kidnapped were released. One of the women has precautionary measures from the IACHR.

The Inter-American Commission reiterates that matters related to citizen security, crime, and violence within a country should be the exclusive jurisdiction of civilian police forces that are properly organized and trained, efficient, and respectful of human rights. The armed forces are trained to defend a country against an external enemy and thus lack the proper training to fulfill the mission of law enforcement, a task which requires working in conjunction with the country’s inhabitants. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a clear and precise separation between internal security as a function of the police and national defense as a function of the armed forces. Moreover, the history of the region shows that the intervention of the armed forces in matters of internal security is in general accompanied by violations of human rights.

The Inter-American Commission urges the State of Mexico to continue investigating these events and to ensure that these investigations are carried out in a way that is serious, independent, impartial, and effective, in keeping with the State’s human rights obligations.

The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the OAS, and derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the General Assembly of the OAS in a personal capacity and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 087/15