IACHR

Press Release - Annex

Preliminary Observations on the IACHR Visit to Mexico

October 2, 2015

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María Isabel Rivero
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Mexico City - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) carried out an onsite visit to Mexico from September 28 to October 2, 2015. The IACHR observed the country’s human rights situation on the ground, with particular emphasis on forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and torture, as well as the situation of citizen insecurity, access to justice and impunity, and the situation of journalists, human rights defenders, and other groups that have been particularly affected by the context of violence in the country.

The delegation was composed of the President of the IACHR, Rose-Marie Belle Antoine; First Vice-President James Cavallaro; and Commissioners Felipe González, Tracy Robinson, and Rosa María Ortiz. Other members of the delegation included IACHR Executive Secretary Emilio Álvarez Icaza Longoria; Assistant Executive Secretary Elizabeth Abi Mershed; the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Edison Lanza; Executive Secretariat human rights specialists Débora Benchoam, Álvaro Botero, Sofía Galván, Fiorella Melzi, Efrén Olivares, Viviana Ordóñez, and Tania Reneaum; press and communication specialists Federico Blanco, Andrea Ramírez Rentería, and María Isabel Rivero; and document specialist Gloria Hansen.
 
The Inter-American Commission interviewed authorities from the three branches and different levels of government, and met with representatives of civil society, autonomous agencies, and international organizations, and with academics and journalists. It also received testimony from victims of human rights violations and their family members. The delegation visited Mexico City, Coahuila, Guerrero, Nuevo León, Tabasco, and Veracruz.

The Commission thanks the government and people of Mexico for the accommodations to facilitate this visit. The IACHR values and appreciates the support and information provided by government authorities at the federal, state, and municipal level, as well as by civil society organizations and international agencies. The Commission especially values and appreciates the efforts the victims of human rights violations and their family members made to meet with the delegation and provide testimony and information.

The Commission calls to mind that any type of reprisal or stigmatization a State may undertake because of the participation or actions of individuals or organizations before the bodies of the inter-American system, in exercise of their treaty rights, is unacceptable. Article 63 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure establishes that States “shall grant the necessary guarantees to all the persons who attend a hearing or who in the course of a hearing provide information, testimony or evidence of any type,” and that States “may not prosecute the witnesses or experts, or carry out reprisals against them or their family members because of their statements or expert opinions given before the Commission.”

CIDH visita Mexico

 
Human Rights Crisis in Mexico

The Inter-American Commission has been able to confirm on the ground the serious human rights crisis Mexico is experiencing, a crisis characterized by a situation of extreme insecurity and violence; gross  human rights violations, especially forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and torture; critical levels of impunity; and inadequate and insufficient attention to victims and their families. The effect of the violence and fundamental rights violations is especially serious and disproportionate for people living in poverty, migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, internally displaced persons, women, children, adolescents, human rights defenders, journalists, indigenous peoples, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans persons (LGBT), among others. Violence is carried out against victims’ relatives, human rights defenders, and journalists with the aim of silencing complaints and cries for truth and justice, and perpetuating impunity for gross human rights violations. Violence and intimidation seek to quell the voices that Mexico most needs. As one high-level official said in a meeting with the IACHR, “As Mexicans, we are in need of truths about our own history and about our own tragedies.”

In this context, in all the places the Commission visited over the course of these days, it met with victims, family members, and human rights defenders who described the obstacles they have encountered in their search for justice and their distrust in the authorities. The lack of access to justice has created a situation of structural impunity that has the effect of perpetuating and in some cases encouraging the repetition of serious human rights violations. The threats, harassment, killings, and disappearance of persons who seek truth and justice have had a chilling effect on Mexican society, which the IACHR was able to confirm over and over through the testimonies of individuals who do not report these violations out of fear of reprisals, which leads to a serious underreporting in official statistics. 

These problems are a result of a structural situation that Mexico has endured over the last decades. Today is the 47th anniversary of the massacre that occurred in Tlatelolco on October 2, 1968. The massacre remains in impunity to this day, without a final number, much less individual identification, of the people who were executed or disappeared in that context.  

The Commission values the measures the State has taken to address this situation. Specifically, it recognizes significant human rights reforms that have been introduced in Mexico beginning in 2011. The IACHR recognizes that various articles of the Constitution have been amended, establishing that all persons in Mexico shall enjoy the human rights recognized in the Constitution and in the international treaties to which Mexico is a party, as well as the guarantees for their protection. Also of note is the Supreme Court’s decision limiting military jurisdiction in cases in which members of the armed forces commit human rights violations against civilians, as well as the authority of all courts in the country to exercise control of conventionality.
 
The Commission also acknowledges the publication of the new Amparo Law in April 2013. The IACHR welcomes the National Human Rights Plan (2013-2018). In January 2013, the General Law on Victims was published. While this is a positive step, the Commission has received information concerning the need to comprehensively review the National Victim Assistance System to ensure that it is effectively fulfilling its mandate.

In addition, the Commission recognizes the approval, in 2012, of the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists. The IACHR stresses the mechanism’s importance and invites the State to continue its efforts to strengthen it and address the various challenges.

The IACHR applauds the 2014-2018 National Human Rights Program (PNDH), which entered into force on April 30, 2014, and which has the central aim of ensuring the effective implementation of the constitutional human rights reform. The Commission invites all federal entities to have a state human rights program. In addition, the IACHR welcomes the approval of the 2014 General Law on the Rights of Children and Adolescents.

The IACHR also welcomes the adoption of the National Program for Social Prevention of Violence and Crime (2014-2018), and particularly the progress made in reducing violence in the municipalities where it has been implemented. The State reported that in municipalities with populations over 100,000 where the program has been implemented, rates of violence have reportedly dropped by more than 30 percent. Civil society organizations have stated that the decrease is lower.

The IACHR also recognizes as a step forward the signing of the Collaboration Agreement to Create a Commission of Forensic Experts to Identify Remains, signed in 2013 by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and civil society organizations. The aim of the agreement is to cooperate with the PGR to identify and determine cause of death in the case of remains located in clandestine graves in the states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo León. Since the Commission of Forensic Experts was created, it has identified the remains of 22 migrants.  

The IACHR welcomes the fact that, in fulfillment of a recommendation made by this body, the Attorney General has announced that a Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes of Violence against Migrants will be created in the first half of 2016.

The Commission also recognizes the publication of the National Code of Criminal Procedures in March 2014, which will enter into effect across the country in June 2016. In this regard, the IACHR has received information indicating that some provisions contained in that Code need to be reviewed in light of international human rights standards.

In addition, the implementation of the new criminal justice system, which is scheduled to enter into effect nationally no later than June 2016, has shown progress across the country. The IACHR emphasizes that it is important for the State, at every level, to carry out the full implementation of the system as scheduled.

In terms of disappearance and torture, the Commission recognizes the Law on the National Registry of Data on Missing or Disappeared Persons, adopted in 2012, and the subsequent national database created, as a first step in the integration of information on disappeared persons. However, the Commission has received information indicating that this database needs to be strengthened to produce information that is reliable, which it currently is not, and to make it more functional and include data that are disaggregated by type of disappearance. Along these lines, the IACHR welcomes information indicating that in some states, groups on the front lines of searching for missing persons have proved to be capable and have found people alive who had been reported as disappeared. 

The IACHR also points to the constitutional reform that led to draft federal legislation on forced disappearance and torture. The Commission trusts that these bills will be brought in line with international standards on the subject and that the content will include contributions from civil society and victims. The Commission also welcomes the signing of an agreement between the Attorney General’s Office and the International Committee of the Red Cross for use of the software license for the Ante Mortem-Post Mortem database. The IACHR also values the State’s initiative to devote more attention to the inter-American system’s petitions, cases, and precautionary measures, as well to involve the federal entities in this program. The Commission also welcomes the approval, in August 2015, of the Protocols for Investigation of Forced Disappearance and Torture.

Notwithstanding the advances mentioned with regard to protocols, codes, and laws, the implementation of the State’s response has been marked by insufficiencies and obstacles. The IACHR confirmed the profound gap between the legislative and judicial framework, and the daily reality that millions of people in the country experience. Again and again, throughout the country, the IACHR heard from victims that the prosecution of justice is a “simulation.”

The militarization of citizen security—attributing to the armed forces roles that properly pertain to civilian police forces—as well as a policy of confronting organized crime and deploying joint operations between the armed forces and state and municipal security institutions in different parts of the country has resulted in an increase in violence and human rights violations, as well as higher levels of impunity. The IACHR considers it essential for the federal government to present a concrete plan, in writing, regarding the gradual withdrawal of these tasks that, by their nature, belong to civilian police.

By using violence and huge sums of money to try to corrupt State officials and authorities, organized crime groups run illegal drug, arms, and migrant trafficking operations, as well as kidnapping and extortion networks, and engage in involuntary recruitment.

Violence is seen throughout much of the country, but it affects certain areas differently. The states bordering the United States—Baja California Norte, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas—especially feel the impact of violence associated with drug trafficking and organized crime. The main migrant transit regions—the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the migrant corridors of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Mexico state, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, and Tamaulipas—are also hard hit by violence related to drug, arms, and human trafficking.

The states of Michoacán and Guerrero, among others, have seen a surge in “self-defense” forces (autodefensas) and community policing, and in January of this year 16 unarmed civilians who were participating in a protest were killed in Apatzingán, in events which according to witness accounts and photographs were extrajudicial executions carried out by federal agents. In May 2014, 22 people died in Tlatlaya, in the Mexico state, in events for which seven army soldiers are being prosecuted.

Guerrero, one of the poorest states in the country, not only has gone through one of the more tragic events in Mexico’s recent history, with the disappearance of the 43 students, but in the process of looking for them clandestine mass graves were discovered, containing the remains of 129 individuals who for the most part have yet to be identified. Family members have reported that 450 people have been disappeared since 2008 in that state alone. This shows that disappearances are widespread in Mexico and that the Ayotzinapa tragedy is not an isolated case.

The IACHR expresses its particular concern over the situation of insecurity in the municipality of Iguala.  The testimonies the Commission received were categorical in pointing to concerns about the incorporation of the new security team. According to the testimonies, those newly in charge of security in the new local government of Iguala had been under investigation and had been interrogated over the events of Ayotzinapa. In this regard, the IACHR calls urgently on the Mexican State to adopt measures to guarantee the rights to life, integrity, and security of the people of Iguala, and to adopt special protective measures for the family members of  “The Other Disappeared” of Guerrero, including measures to ensure that they can safely meet and go about their business in Iguala.

 

The 43 Missing Students in Ayotzinapa and the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts

This September 26 and 27, when the IACHR delegation was arriving in Mexico for its onsite visit, marked the first anniversary of the forced disappearance of 43 students from the “Raúl Isidro Burgos” Rural Teaching School, in Guerrero state—events in which other people were also injured and killed. This grave tragedy has become a call to national and international attention on forced disappearance in Mexico, particularly in the state of Guerrero, and on the serious flaws in the investigations of such crimes and the structural and almost total impunity in which these serious crimes tend to remain.

The IACHR met with the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts, established by the IACHR at the request of the Mexican State and the representatives of the family members of the 43 disappeared students. The Interdisciplinary Group is assisting the Mexican State in four tasks related to the events of September 26-27, 2014: the development of plans to search for the missing students; technical analyses of the lines of investigation to determine criminal liability; plans for providing comprehensive care and reparation for the victims of these events, and the adoption of public policies to ensure that similar events to not happen again. The IACHR has a precautionary measure in effect in connection with these events.

The Commission endorses all aspects of the work carried out by the Interdisciplinary Group thus far and supports the reports the Interdisciplinary Group has presented. Based on these reports, the Inter-American Commission urges the Mexican State to take into account the report issued by the Interdisciplinary Group on September 6, 2015, in order to redirect the course of the investigation to clear up the truth about what happened and determine any criminal liability. Specifically, based on the Interdisciplinary Group’s report, the Attorney General’s Office should urgently adopt the following critical and essential measures: transfer responsibility for the investigation from the Office of the Deputy Attorney General Specialized in Investigation of Organized Crime (SEIDO) to the Office of the Deputy Attorney General for Human Rights, Crime Prevention, and Community Services (SDHPDSC); appoint, , in consultation with the Interdisciplinary Group, a new Special Prosecutor in charge of the investigation; replace the entire team investigating the case with members selected in a way that respects the principles of impartiality, autonomy, and independence, through processes that are transparent; and redirect the investigation to pursue the leads laid out in the Interdisciplinary Group’s report, which are far from the hypotheses upon which the Attorney General’s Office has based its investigations thus far. Finally, the IACHR urges the Mexican State to provide access to the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts, as they have requested, to interview all witnesses, including the members of the 27th Infantry Battalion who were present in Iguala on September 26 and 27.  

Disappearances and Forced Disappearances

The disappearance of persons seen throughout many parts of Mexico has reached critical proportions. The States reports that there are currently 26,580 missing or disappeared persons in Mexico. The statistics and testimonies the Commission has collected tell of kidnappings at the hands of organized crime groups. The ample and consistent information concerning the existence of a practice of forced disappearance at the hands of agents of the State or with their participation, acquiescence, or tolerance is especially serious.   

Forced disappearance was used in the country in the 1970s and 1980s, when the Mexican State applied a strategy of political and social containment—the so-called “dirty war”—to contain and destroy real or perceived dissident groups, their supporters and groups. Against this backdrop, numerous forced disappearances reportedly occurred, as well as massacres and torture carried out by both military armed forces and civilian police. Here is one testimony received by the Commission in Mexico City: “In 1974 they detained my father and four brothers, and since then we have been searching. For us it is clear that it is the Mexican State that took our fathers and brothers and we are seeking justice.” The State still has work to do with regard to the events that took place during that period. One outstanding task is to record the names of victims who were not included in the report of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), so as to consolidate a registry of everyone who disappeared during that time; another is to grant effective reparation.

Another area in which the State has unfinished business has to do with bringing about justice. Despite the large number of forced disappearances, as of 2012 only two convictions had been reported for forced disappearance, neither of them a final judgment. The Commission learned that in August 2015 a member of the armed forces was convicted of forced disappearance by the lowest court. A family member of someone who went missing in Guerrero told the Commission: “We are suffering the same pain, and what we have been through has been so cruel that to date we have spent more than 40-some years looking for our loved ones. The government swallowed them up and listen, we have never given up on our quest. They have to tell us what happened to them!” For her part, the wife of someone who disappeared during that period said: “The PGR [Attorney General’s Office”] has demonstrated a turtle’s pace and a lack of interest in resolving these cases. We as family members have been acting as investigators, giving evidence to the PGR.” 

The Commission received repeated complaints from victims searching for justice concerning actions by state prosecutors’ offices, and to a lesser extent, the PGR. Many victims are turned away when they attempt to file a report. If an investigation is initiated, victims’ families face serious obstacles, as some members of state prosecutor’s offices ask them for money to complete certain procedures and deny them access to files. It is also common to hear about delays in investigations in which the first few hours are critical, as is the case with disappearances. Family members also report a lack of efficient coordination and cooperation among state and federal justice authorities. This obstructs the investigation, which is a non-delegable obligation of the State. If a person’s remains are found, family members report difficulties in receiving those remains appropriately, with certainty regarding their identity, and in a dignified manner. The mother of two disappeared children in Guerrero—a 21-year-old son and a 19-year-old daughter—told the IACHR that several neighbors had told her they were kidnapped by police and taken away in a vehicle. “We filed complaints but they never responded to us. They were never able to tell us anything,” she said.  

As the IACHR has stated repeatedly, impunity not only leaves victims, their family members, and Mexican society as a whole without truth and justice; it also leads to such acts being repeated. “We are the second generation of family members who in our case are looking for our fathers and mothers,” one member of the organization Hijos por la identidad y la justicia contra el olvido y el silencio, orHIJOS [“Children for identity and justice and against forgetting and silence”] told the Commission. “Before it was our grandmothers, now it is us. We document disappearances due to political activity; we have documented 564 cases, but they are not the only ones. Our parents were political activists. Forced disappearance in this country has been around for decades. What our grandmothers and now we have confirmed is a terrible impunity. Today we have thousands of people disappeared…. It’s no accident that this is happening now. This has to do with contexts, practices, and impunity, because those responsible were not punished, but rather were sent to different public positions.”    

The magnitude of the problem of disappeared persons in Mexico is alarming. The numbers are unclear in terms of types of disappearance: forced disappearance, kidnapping, missing persons, or other types of absence. The mother of a man who disappeared in the state of Nuevo León told the Commission: “There are thousands of disappeared just like him. We haven’t had any results from the investigation and we have had to carry out the search ourselves. The district attorney in Nuevo León says that they have 2,300 disappearances on record [in Nuevo León]. You can imagine what the real number must be. We are suffering the indifference.” The IACHR found there is a lack of appropriate mechanisms to correctly establish when a disappearance is involved, so official statistics are not reliable. This is the first obstacle in searching for the disappeared, clearing up the truth, and finding justice. Nor is there specific information concerning cases that could constitute forced disappearance, in other words those in which there are signs that there may have been participation or acquiescence by State agents. It is essential that the Mexican State adopt measures to substantially improve the way information is collected and systematized.

As in cases of forced disappearance of the past, there are high rates of impunity for present-day disappearances and forced disappearances. Investigations into disappearances are characterized by serious and multiple flaws. In the first place, there are indications that many cases of disappearance are not reported, because family members distrust the State’s ability to respond, fear that they will suffer reprisals, or perceive—rightly or not—that the authorities to whom they would have to file a complaint could be involved in the disappearance. “We have had a cross to bear since my son disappeared. We no longer trust the institutions. We no longer trust the authorities. Unfortunately, this period of time has been very difficult for us as ordinary people. Here, only people with political power and economic power have their cases solved,” a father told the IACHR during a meeting in Mexico City. In Veracruz, the IACHR heard testimony from a mother whose son disappeared at the end of 2013: “I went to all the places; nobody helps us get our sons back. There is no response, either from the government of Veracruz or from the federal government.”

The Commission also heard testimony from many family members who say they suffer threats and harassment in an attempt to get them to stop seeking truth and justice. “The threats are real. We are at risk, but also convinced that being quiet is not an option. We either speak up, at the risk of being killed; or if we don’t speak up, they can still kill us anyway,” the IACHR was told, in testimony in Veracruz. For her part, a mother in Mexico City said: “They tell me, stop searching because I’m going to cut out your tongue. Stop searching because your other three children are going to appear at the door to your house and they will be on your conscience. They leave us with that void, that absence, and with our hearts frozen because we don’t have a body with which to cry.” Meanwhile, a woman in Michoacán whose husband has been missing since 2013 told the IACHR: “Right after I filed my complaint, just meters from there, they detained me. That’s why most people who have loved ones disappear do not report it. Last week a bullet whizzed by my face. I had to get my children out of Morelia to be able to keep looking for my husband. Even though people tell me to be at peace, to calm down…I won’t be able to until I find my husband. I’m the voice of hundreds of women, because Michoacán is in the hot zone. There are few complaints because they shut up our mouths. That’s why I’m here, for all these women, for all these orphans, for all these women and their children.”

In cases in which complaints are filed, the response from the authorities falls seriously short. The IACHR received hundreds of testimonies from people who indicate that search mechanisms are not activated with the needed urgency. One woman told the IACHR about the difficulties she faced in filing a complaint over the disappearance of her son, her husband, and two other family members, who disappeared in Iguala in August 2014. “They were disappeared by the municipal police, and they were found on October 4 in six graves in Cerro Viejo. We had many problems in getting them to accept the complaint on August 14, 2014. They didn’t look for them and didn’t look for them,” she said. “We ask ourselves why our government keeps on allowing so many disappearances and deaths.”

All the testimonies received point to major delays in performing minimum due diligence to try to find those reported as disappeared, and there are even cases in which there is no due diligence at all. This is particularly serious since the first 48 to 72 hours after someone goes missing are critical, and after that time the possibility of finding the person alive goes down. “Our country has no search mechanisms,” the mother of a 14-year-old girl who disappeared in 2010 told the Commission. “When I arrived to file a complaint, they told us she had gone off with her boyfriend. That’s what they tell us, that they leave because they want to. We have so much pain! When our children disappear, we don’t know what to do, where to turn, where we need to go so they will help us find our children.”

There are also irregularities in searching for and interviewing possible eyewitnesses; in gathering, analyzing, and handling possible evidence; in investigating phone records; in coming up with sketches of possible perpetrators; and in identifying remains that are found, among other serious problems. The sister of a woman who disappeared in Oaxaca on April 29, 2006, told the Commission: “It’s been more than nine years since I’ve been petitioning the authorities to find my sister and give her to me…. I ask the authorities to give me my sister, to keep looking for her. And we ask you to help us raise awareness about the violence we are suffering here in Mexico because of the corruption of the authorities. The authorities do not pay attention to us, they ask us for money.”

Another problem observed is that the authorities do not necessarily classify the crime of disappearance correctly, and even when a disappearance is defined as such, the definition does not always meet international standards. In fact, the criminal classification of forced disappearance that has been in the Federal Criminal Code since June 1, 2001, is not in line with international human rights standards. According to information provided by the State, only one of every 10 federal entities has a special law on this subject and many of them do not include the crime of disappearance in their state criminal codes. Moreover, when there are signs that there may be a case of forced disappearance, the incidents are classified as other crimes and thus investigations are not done properly. Another serious problem is the lack of independence of the forensic service, as it is part of the Attorney General’s Office. The testimonies heard by the Commission also reveal profound distrust in state and local authorities. Specifically, the IACHR received information indicating that some members of the federal police and state police forces, as well as many municipal police forces, are in collusion with organized crime groups. In Veracruz, the IACHR heard one relative say this: “Recently they offered us protection measures in Veracruz. They tell us that the police are going to protect us. The problem is that they are the ones who are harassing us.” For their part, the family members of others who disappeared told the IACHR that “police officers and authorities who refuse to sell out to the criminals are killed.”

In its visit to the state of Guerrero, the Commission received information from relatives of the 43 students and also from family members of other missing persons in the municipality of Iguala, who refer to themselves as “The Other Disappeared” and who claim that 450 people have been disappeared in Guerrero since 2008. During the search for the 43 students, another 60 unmarked mass graves were discovered in that municipality, and so far 129 bodies have been found. The institutional inability to address the problem has meant that family members themselves are conducting their own searches for unmarked graves in Iguala, looking for their missing relatives, and since November 2014 they have found 104 bodies. So far only seven of the bodies have been officially identified.

The brother of a missing person told the IACHR in Iguala that he has left his job to devote himself full-time to the search for his brother’s remains, “because my mother is dying from grief and I have to find him.” Based on anonymous reports of lots where unmarked graves have been found, the family members described their search methods. “We borrow a car and go out to the mountains, and where we see that the earth has sunk down a bit, that may be a sign that they buried someone there. We put this rod into the ground and then we sniff it, and if it smells rotten we know there’s a corpse there. And that is the technology we use to find bodies, but the PGR does not let us use the rod anymore,” a family member explained to the IACHR on a lot where 18 bodies were found on the outskirts of Iguala.

The discovery of unmarked graves and graves in cemeteries and burial grounds in various parts of Mexico has shown that it is often family members who have had to take on the task of searching for their loved ones, and has pointed to multiple flaws and gaps in the handling and identification of bodies and in the assistance and protection provided to victims’ families. In accordance with information it collected throughout its visit, the Commission observed that in many cases in which bodies were found in graves, it was seen that personnel from public prosecutors’ offices and forensic services failed to apply protocols with standardized criteria for the removal of bodies, securing of the scene, chain of custody, autopsies, and attention to victims’ families, among other things. The IACHR urges that a National Forensic Institute be created, one that is independent of political and other types of interference and governed strictly by technical and scientific criteria.     

The lack of progress in the investigations extends to other states in Mexico. “The authorities dig up ground but they don’t analyze it. I’ve given myself the task of sifting through the dirt to see if I find my son’s dentures,” a mother said in a meeting with the IACHR in Mexico City. Another mother said: “When we come to ask for justice, we have seen that we are a source of discomfort.  We tell them what lines of investigation to pursue, because we have become investigators.” One woman from Nuevo León told the IACHR that she and her husband have been looking for their missing son for four months. “They tell us we’re [human rights] defenders, but we’re just family members searching for justice, searching for truth,” she said.

The IACHR was able to attest that a large percentage of family members of the disappeared live in poverty and extreme poverty, a situation that is exacerbated and made more complicated when a member of the family who was the sole means of support disappears. The IACHR received testimony from a poor mother of six children in Iguala whose husband went missing—one of numerous accounts it heard from families who sink into deeper poverty when a member of the family who was working and contributing to the household, or was the main source of income, disappears. The obstacles they face in seeking assistance are profound. For example, they have the possibility of getting 300 pesos per month (about $18) from the Executive Commission for Attention to Victims (CEAV), but to qualify for it, the family first has to publish the official missing-persons report in three national newspapers, something that costs 30,000 pesos ($1,800).

The IACHR received extensive information on the disproportionate effect that disappearances and forced disappearances have on children and adolescents. The disappearance of their parents tends to accentuate the poverty and stigma these children face. According to official figures, between 2007 and 2015 there were reports of approximately 6,000 missing children and adolescents; this amounts to more than one fifth of all the disappeared reported by the Mexican State.

The Commission also received information concerning the grave problem of the disappearance of migrants in Mexico and all along migration routes leading to the United States. Within the context of violence that has affected Mexico in recent years, the Commission was informed that one of the phenomena of most concern has to do with the lack of attention to cases of disappearance and the additional difficulties the families of missing migrants face when it comes to searching for their loved ones and seeking access to justice. According to official statistics, 662 migrants are considered disappeared or missing persons, of which 535 are men and 127 women. Moreover, 165 of them are under 19 years of age. Civil society organizations say that these figures are actually much higher.

With regard to cases involving women, 7,060 women have been registered as disappeared or missing since 2011. The IACHR has addressed this serious problem in its work related to Ciudad Juárez, and also in cases such as Campo Algodonero and Paloma Angélica Escobar Ledezma. There is a serious problem when it comes to investigating, seeking justice, and preventing disappearances of women. The IACHR expresses its deep concern regarding the lack of progress in the investigations into women’s disappearances, as well as regarding the wide gap between the laws and public policies that are adopted and the reality women experience in their day-to-day lives.

In addition to the bill sent to Congress on forced disappearance and protocols for more expeditious investigations, the government has announced the creation of a national search system and a national DNA information system that integrates genetic databases available across all state agencies. It is essential and urgent that substantive, comprehensive progress be made on these plans and for there to be participation by civil society organizations and by organizations of victims’ family members in designing and implementing such initiatives. Specifically, it is urgent for a national unified database of all missing persons and DNA profiles of their family members to be created.

The IACHR recognizes the enactment of the 2012 Law for the National Registry of Missing and Disappeared Persons as a step forward. However, measures must be adopted to produce reliable, public, and transparent information. In this regard, the National Registry must be enhanced and made functional. It must also include the respective DNA and forensic databases with physical descriptions, which is also critical for the identification of remains. The IACHR also urges the State to publish any regulations to the law; these must be published no later than six months after publication of the law. The IACHR believes it is necessary to have a single national registry of all persons in custody, as a way to prevent the disappearance of persons.

With regard to bills on forced disappearance currently before the Mexican Congress, the IACHR emphasizes the need for this crime to be codified in accordance with international human rights standards. The IACHR also urges the State to adopt a national, self-enforcing law on disappearance.

Killings and Extrajudicial Executions

According to the National Institute on Statistics and Geography (INEGI), the homicide rate in 2013 was 19.5 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, and in 2014 it went down to 16.43 per 100,000. The IACHR welcomes this decrease, even though the figure continues to be high. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers that a rate of 10 or more homicides per 100,000 inhabitants constitutes an epidemic level of violence. Figures provided by the Executive Secretariat of National Public Security on the states with the highest homicide rates are a cause for concern; they show that Guerrero (42.68), Sinaloa (33.33), and Chihuahua (29.36) have rates far above than the national average.
 
Another deeply troubling phenomenon is that of extrajudicial executions and the endemic impunity for these crimes. Recent situations include events in Tlatlaya, in the southern part of Mexico state, in June 2014; in Apatzingán, Michoacán, in January 2015; and in Tanhuato, also in Michoacán, in May 2015. In all three cases, the authorities first said that the civilian deaths had been the result of confrontations. However, witness accounts and evidence point to the alleged participation of federal authorities and members of the armed forces in acts that appear to constitute cases of extrajudicial execution; tampering with the crime scene to make it appear that the incident involved a confrontation; and irregularities in the investigations. The IACHR urges the Mexican State to urgently conduct diligent and impartial investigations to establish the facts and determine relevant criminal liability in all cases where civilians have been injured or died at the hands of police or military forces, as part of a public policy of greater transparency and accountability over events such as these, and in compliance with the Mexican State’s international obligations with regard to justice.

There is a severe lack of adequate and complete statistical information concerning the incidence of extrajudicial executions in the country. The numbers vary depending on the source. According to official information, the number of civilians who have died at the hands of the army decreased from 1,297 in 2011 to 459 in 2013, but there is no official information for 2014 or 2015. It is through the administration of justice that it would be possible to determine whether these deaths were extrajudicial executions or not, or the result of an excessive and disproportionate use of lethal force. However, the high rates of impunity for all crimes are also seen with regard to operations by police and military forces, so it is impossible to get reliable numbers and statistics on the extent of the serious problem of the illegitimate taking of life by State security forces.

Given the serious lack of information, specialists from the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas [Center for Economic Research and Teaching, CIDE] and the Institute for Legal Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (IIJ-UNAM) analyzed the lethality rate, which is the number of civilian deaths per civilian wounded in situations characterized by the authorities as “confrontations.” These rates are alarmingly high in Mexico. Ignacio Cano, the expert who designed this index, states that “any ratio over 1 points to an abuse of force and the existence of summary executions.” In Mexico, the army’s lethality rate was 7.7 civilian deaths per civilian wounded in 2013 and 11.6 in the first quarter of 2014. No figures are available for the rest of 2014 and so far in 2015. The Secretariat of National Defense reported that “since April 6, 2014, this statistic is no longer being compiled, as it is not necessary for this agency of the federal executive branch.” In this regard, the IACHR urges the State to apply what is established in the Manual on the Use of Force applicable to the three branches of the armed forces, which indicates that, following an attack, it must “prepare a detailed report on the event in which force was used.”

Of the 52 recommendations made by the CNDH that involved violations of the right to life from 2006 to April 2013, three out of every four were directed at the armed forces. There is also a widespread problem of cover-up by authorities to keep people from finding out the truth about what happened and to make it impossible for the justice system to determine culpability.

There is ample evidence that the militarization of public security has led to an increase in human rights violations in the country. The IACHR received the testimony of one mother in Nuevo León: “The Navy was supposedly carrying out an operation. They barged into my house at 1 a.m. All of a sudden there was a bunch of noise, and the Navy guys came in, kicked my son, and shot him in the forehead…. Four years have gone by, and nothing has happened.” Given that the armed forces lack the appropriate training to oversee citizen security, it is up to a civilian police force, one that is efficient and respectful of human rights, to combat insecurity, crime, and violence domestically. According to inter-American standards in this area, the participation of the armed forces in citizen security should be temporary and strictly limited to exceptional circumstances.

 

Torture, Physical Integrity, and Arbitrary Deprivation of Liberty

The IACHR confirmed during its visit that another grave problem in Mexico is the arbitrary deprivation of liberty and the widespread use of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment after someone is detained and prior to being brought before a judge. The Commission received troubling information indicating that at the state level arbitrary detentions are used politically, as a tool to quell dissident voices, social movements, and student movements, among others. Arbitrary detentions are the rule, not the exception. According to one civil society organization, “In practice it might take days before someone goes before a court; meanwhile, a confession is obtained by the armed forces and prosecutors. Then the detainees are brought to a doctor associated with the prosecutor’s office or to the hospital, where the certification of the injuries is done in the presence of police officers.” 

The mechanism of arraigo (a form of preventive detention) continues to be applied, despite recent changes to the rules that have reduced or limited its application in some states. Another provision used is quasi flagrante delicto, which allows for someone to be detained “immediately after having committed a crime.” This concept is being applied in a way that is lax and improper; it is incompatible with the principle of presumption of innocence and leads to a tendency to detain in order to investigate, rather than investigate in order to detain. The Commission observes that there is an excessive, widespread use of pretrial detention and underuse of alternative measures, which seems to be the result both of legal practices and the legislative framework. Specifically, information available to this Commission indicates that approximately 42.2 percent of Mexico’s total prison population is awaiting trial.

Acts of torture and mistreatment after someone is detained tend to be carried out to punish and extract confessions or incriminating information. In the case of women who are detained, there is extensive use of gender-based violence and sexual violence as a form of torture. The Commission also received information concerning multiple cases of Central American migrants who are in prison, implicated in crimes after their confessions were obtained through torture by military and police authorities.

Another group particularly affected by torture is indigenous peoples, specifically their leaders and community police, who are often criminalized when they organize themselves—especially when they mobilize to reject extractive industry projects that affect their lands and territories and their rights to life and integrity. Information provided by civil society and testimonies of indigenous leaders and family members of indigenous prison inmates all point to the criminalization of these leaders, who are often detained arbitrarily and tortured to obtain false confessions, which are then used to incriminate them in the criminal justice system.

The Commission notes the absence of criminal classification for the conduct of recruitment of children and adolescents for organized crime as well as a lack of effective protection and preventive policies in these circumstances. The Commission regrets that the State does not have data management systems and analysis of information on the use of children by organized crime. According to sources from civil society and academia, it is estimated that there are at least 30,000 children recruited for activities ranging from surveillance, collection of extortion money, trafficking, piracy, drug trafficking, and drug dealing. The cartels and police and military forces, when acting outside the law, are responsible for a large number of deaths, disappearances, and acts of violence, including sexual violence, especially against girls and female adolescents. Security forces treat adolescents from neighborhoods or areas exposed to drug trafficking activities as if they were members of these groups, which creates an enormous lack of trust, an essential component for any prevention policy. Through the application of the new General Law on the Rights of Children and Adolescents (2014), the IACHR urges the State to provide protection from all forms of violence to children, their families, and their communities, with a comprehensive and coordinated approach.

Cases of reported torture and ill-treatment tend to remain unpunished, and it is not clear whether the State has the will to investigate and punish the authorities responsible for having committed these acts. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, in his report on Mexico, stated that torture and mistreatment “occur in a context of impunity,” and that people are often found guilty “solely or primarily on the basis of confessions obtained as a result of torture and ill-treatment,” which encourages the use of such methods by the authorities. In this regard, it is essential that the police officials who investigate complaints of torture are independent from prosecutors’ offices.

The IACHR welcomes recent advances in case law on this matter. The Supreme Court established that “evidence obtained on the basis of unlawful detention and in violation of fundamental rights is inadmissible.” Subsequently it established that judges must institute two independent proceedings in response to a complaint of torture, one to investigate the allegations and the other to determine the necessity of excluding evidence, thereby avoiding the postponement of a decision on admissibility to the sentencing stage and separating the exclusion of evidence from the outcome of the investigation.

According to information provided by the State, in 15 federal entities torture is not classified as a crime in the state criminal codes, and another 15 states do not have a specific law on the subject. The IACHR urges the State to work urgently, in conjunction with civil society, on a General Law to Prevent, Investigate, Punish, and Redress Torture. Such a law should meet international standards, taking into special account the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The IACHR also urges the State to adopt a national, self-enforcing federal law on torture.

One civil society organization estimates that some 10,000 people are tortured every year in Mexico. It arrived at that number by taking the statistic of 2,000 people tortured annually in the federal prison system—a figure announced by the Attorney General’s Office—and projecting that out to the state correctional system, which has four times as many prisoners. The organization indicated that this estimate is conservative, as complaints would lead one to believe that there are proportionately more cases of torture in the state system than in the federal system. The majority of torture cases remain unpunished. Mexico’s National Commission of High Courts (CONATRIB) informed the IACHR that from 2011 to 2015 there were a total of 14 convictions for the crime of torture in the 32 states.
  
According to information the Commission received, the most frequently used methods of torture are blows, including blows with fists, booted kicks, and blows to different parts of the body with batons or the butt of a gun; insults, threats, and humiliation; having to witness or listen to other people being tortured; asphyxiation through choking or drowning; electric shocks; and forced nudity and sexual torture. Torture is reportedly applied to activists, social leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, migrants and indigenous leaders, as well as to people in custody, to get them to confess to a crime. According to figures from the National Human Rights Commission, the number of complaints of torture and ill-treatment reported in 2013 increased by 600 percent over 2003.

Moreover, recent years have seen an increase in the automatic use of migrant detention and deportations, which in a large number of cases are carried out summarily. According to figures provided by the National Migration Institute (INM), from 2013 to 2015 there has been a 67 percent increase of migrants in migrant detention centers. The arrest and expedited deportation of migrants represent an obstacle to their access to the procedure for determining refugee status. Deporting asylum seekers or refugees without proper determination of their status constitutes a violation of their right to non-return (non-refoulement), which jeopardizes their life and integrity.

In Tenosique, Tabasco, the IACHR heard the testimony of a Honduran migrant woman who had recently been the victim of sexual violence: “We were walking at night because we thought it was safer. We were walking down the road from El Ceibo to Tenosique. When we were going by the garbage dump, four men showed up on the road. Two were carrying guns and two had machetes. They told us they had to frisk us. They frisked us and took everything that belonged to the men who were with me. I didn’t have any pockets and they told me, ‘We’re not sure about you. We’re going to search you really closely. Don’t resist because that will be worse for you.’ They started to touch me, they lowered my pants. Not one but two more as well. They didn’t use protection. The three men came.... They also abused another woman. At that time the Immigration people went by and left us on the road. I couldn’t walk. I slept on some steps. My feet were blistered. When I went to file a complaint, they had to carry me. They also had to carry me to the hospital. The forensic doctors weren’t there because they were on vacation. The authorities know about that place and do nothing. I want to report this situation so this won’t happen to others.”

The IACHR observes that the large numbers of complaints and testimonies received are not matched by a similar number of investigations. The Mexican government reported that as of April 30, 2015, the Attorney General’s Office had recorded a total of 2,420 ongoing investigations into torture. However, between 2003 and 2013, the State reported only 15 convictions for torture at the federal level. Of the 11,254 complaints the CNDH received of torture and ill-treatment between 2005 and 2013, it issued 223 recommendations, and apparently not one of these cases has resulted in a criminal conviction. During its visit, the IACHR also confirmed that there are many cases of torture that are not reported to any agency out of fear of reprisals, among other reasons.

The IACHR also received information during its visit about the situation of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) persons and the specific risks they face. The Commission has been particularly concerned about violence against LGBT persons by the police and other security forces in the context, for example, of arbitrary detentions followed by threats or torture. This is a very serious, and virtually invisible, problem in Mexico and there are no official figures. Also, according to the organization “Letra S,” 288 LGBT persons were killed in Mexico between 2010 and 2013, including some human rights defenders. In its Registry of Violence against LGBT People in the Americas, which compiles attacks on life and integrity, the IACHR Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI Persons reported that between January 2013 and March 2014 there were a total of 42 homicides of trans people and 37 of gay men or men perceived to be gay, among other acts of violence in Mexico. In this context, the Commission is encouraged by a protocol adopted by the Supreme Court which, in response to a complaint of assault, ordered an investigation into whether there was an aggravating factor of hate on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, and ordered that appropriate sanctions be imposed, in order to send "a signal of how the state will handle" such cases. The non-discrimination obligation requires the State to redouble its efforts to prevent and respond to violence against LGBT persons. In this regard, the IACHR urges the State to design and implement mechanisms for collecting reliable data on violence against LGBT persons, including allegations of torture and arbitrary arrests by the police.

With regard to arraigo, the Mexican State informed the IACHR that the use of this type of preventive detention (which consists of holding someone in custody before bringing the person before a judge) has decreased significantly. Along these lines, according to figures from the Attorney General's Office, between January and July of 2015, there were 89 individuals held in arraigo. Moreover, the Commission takes note of the Supreme Court’s precedent on the matter, issued in February 2014, which determined the unconstitutionality of the practice locally in cases involving the commission of serious crimes and confirmed the federal jurisdiction of arraigo in cases involving organized crime. The Commission values the fact that this charge is being used less and that case law is restricting its application; however, it is concerned about the existence of arraigo at the constitutional level. The Commission has received numerous complaints about the use of arraigo to hold individuals in private homes, hotels, and military facilities without respect for due process, which raises the risk that detainees will be subjected to ill-treatment and even torture.

 

Forced Internal Displacement

Another of the serious human rights violations caused by the various forms of violence that have plagued Mexico in recent years is forced internal displacement. In the course of its visit the IACHR received extensive information and testimonies about how the violence inflicted by organized crime groups, at times acting in collusion with agents of the State, leads directly and indirectly to the internal displacement of victims of human rights abuses and their families. Development megaprojects are leading to the forced displacement of indigenous peoples and other communities in certain parts of the country. The violence has had a particularly serious impact in generating the forced displacement of groups such as indigenous peoples, journalists, and human rights defenders. One testimony the IACHR received in Guerrero gave an account of the forced displacement of a community in the Sierra de Totolapan. “We were displaced by organized crime. We are 58 families, and there are 27 deaths and 3 disappearances among those 58 families. We were attacked in our homes. They came five times to attack us in our homes. That’s where they killed 27 of us. One 8-year-old girl saw how they killed her mother and her brother. That was in 2012. They wanted lumber, they wanted to plant drugs, they wanted the minerals there,” she said.
   
In the absence of official statistics, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center has estimated that as of year-end 2014 there were at least 281,400 internally displaced people in Mexico. Civil society organizations say that the actual figure could be much higher. The authorities' failure to acknowledge the existence of internal displacement and the fact that it has remained unquantified have helped to cloak it in invisibility. The Commission reiterates its concern about the serious impact that internal displacement is having and about the lack of an exhaustive diagnostic assessment of the problem and a comprehensive policy to prevent it and provide assistance and lasting solutions for the internally displaced.

 

Violence against Human Rights Defenders

During its onsite visit, the IACHR confirmed that—as the extensive information it has received in recent years has indicated—human rights defenders face a situation of harassment and threats. In fact, the IACHR has used its precautionary measure mechanism to request that Mexico protect a significant number of human rights defenders who persistently suffer acts of harassment and threats. Testimonies received during the visit indicate that defenders continue to be subject to killings, attacks, forced disappearances, threats against them and their families, stalking, and statements by authorities who disparage and stigmatize them for their work as human rights defenders. In the 2006-2012 period, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 245 attacks on defenders; 22 defenders and 5 members of their families who were reportedly killed for reasons related to their defense of human rights; and 6 defenders whose whereabouts were unknown. In addition, the Office of the Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Assistance for Human Rights Defenders of the Mexico City Human Rights Commission (CDHDF) recorded 47 alleged acts of aggression against human rights defenders across the country in 2010; 63 in 2011; 485 in 2012; and 214 through June 29, 2013. The most common acts of aggression are arbitrary detentions, with 102 in 2012 and 73 in 2013. According to figures provided by civil society organizations, from June 1, 2012, to May 1, 2015, there were at least 918 cases of human rights violations reported against defenders in Mexico.

In addition, during its visit to Guerrero the IACHR learned about the pressures justice operators in lower courts and prosecutors’ offices face when they investigate and try cases involving human rights violations. The Commission also learned of justice operators who are on the receiving end of political pressures, mainly from the executive branch, due to complaints alleging acts of corruption on the part of State officials. It was also reported that prosecutors and judges are subject to intimidation and coercion by members of organized crime.

Human rights defenders are an essential pillar for the strengthening and consolidation of democracy, as the work they do affects all of society and seeks to benefit it. Therefore, when someone is prevented from defending human rights, the rest of society is directly affected. The protection of human rights defenders is urgent and essential to guarantee their right to life, their work as defenders, and, in consequence, the effectiveness of democracy and human rights.      
   

Violence and Threats against Journalists and the Media

The IACHR has viewed with concern the rapid increase in attacks of different kinds and homicides of journalists and other members of the media in Mexico. In the last decade, 67 journalists have been killed, 6 of them in 2014 and another 6 so far in 2015. In fact, during the last decade the Commission has used its precautionary measure mechanism to request that Mexico protect a significant number of journalists who persistently suffer acts of harassment and threats.

Violence toward the media has been especially acute in federal entities where there is a presence of organized crime and collusion with State agents. According to the information available, the journalists who are victims are those who have reported on acts of administrative corruption, drug trafficking, organized crime, public security, and related matters. The IACHR views with concern information it has received regarding the possible participation and passivity of State actors in some of these incidents.

During its onsite visit the IACHR held meetings in Mexico City with civil society organizations devoted to the defense of freedom of expression and of journalists, and also visited Veracruz, where there have been 15 killings of journalists since 2010, as well as many attacks by public and private actors, the majority of which remain unpunished. The Commission has confirmed that in Veracruz the work of journalism is carried out in a context of job uncertainty, lack of security, and a failure by media outlets themselves to protect their reporters.

In this state as in most other federal entities, journalists are in a vulnerable situation in the exercise of their profession. “In Mexico, since organized crime cells realized that it was profitable to instill fear in journalists, this has become a modus operandi,” said one of the journalists who attended the audience with the Commission in Veracruz. “It is a contradiction, and one that generates anxiety, that supposedly there are many ongoing intelligence operations and investigations, and yet they cannot find those responsible for ordering the crimes,” he added.
 
The IACHR also learned of attacks on media outlets during the 2015 electoral process, including attacks on infrastructure, theft of equipment, threats, and cyberattacks. Some states, including Veracruz, are scheduled to hold elections in the coming months, which will increase the risk factors for journalists.

Meanwhile, in 2014 the Commission also received reports of serious acts of violence and arbitrary arrests which took place during protests and which reportedly affected dozens of demonstrators and journalists.

In addition to the acts of violence there is a lack of decisive action on the part of the State to investigate and punish those responsible for perpetrating and masterminding these crimes. This leads to a state of impunity with respect to the attacks against reporters and others who work in the media.

Despite the progress represented by the existence of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) and the 2013 constitutional reform that gave this office the authority to transfer crimes against freedom of expression to its jurisdiction, there are still major political and jurisdictional challenges which the special prosecutor and state prosecutors’ offices need to sort out in order to reduce the high rates of impunity. The lack of complete results in investigations and the increase in attacks mean that journalists turn to self-censorship as a way to protect their personal safety and their lives, with a resulting deterioration in the right to information of the community as a whole.
 
Moreover, the Commission has noted some difficulties that victims of serious human rights violations and their families have in gaining access to public information. The Mexican State approved the General Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information, under which the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information, and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) was granted the authority to declassify information on grave human rights violations. However, under the new legislation, that decision may be appealed by the Legal Department of the Office of the President of the Republic on grounds of national security. This has produced some appeals in the Supreme Court, in addition to delaying access to critical information needed to investigate these serious violations. There is also no clarity with respect to what guidelines or criteria the Supreme Court will apply in making decisions.

During the onsite visit, the Commission noted a progressive decline in the policy of proactive transparency and public information concerning the deaths of civilians in security operations, particularly when the armed forces are involved. In that sense, it has been reported that defense agencies have ceased to regularly provide information on deaths that take place in such operations, and in the last two years the media and social organizations have had to resort to using the access-to-information remedy to gain partial access to this information, both at the national and state level.

 

Mechanisms for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists

As for protecting human rights defenders and journalists, the law establishing the protection mechanism for human rights defenders and journalists was adopted in 2012. The IACHR welcomes the adoption of this mechanism, which fulfilled a recommendation made by the Commission and the United Nations in 2010.

In its early stages, the mechanism faced difficulties related to the acceptance of applications, the assessment of applicants’ risk, and internal decision-making procedures on whether to grant measures. At the same time, administrative problems were reported due to the high rate of staff turnover and the lack of training of personnel. According to the information available, the mechanism has improved its internal procedures for handling applications for protection and has increased its staff and staff training. However, significant challenges remain in terms of ensuring the protection of applicants. From 2012 to date, the mechanism reported that there are 463 beneficiaries of protective measures, of which 190 are journalists and 273 defenders. The Commission notes that this development should be strengthened with components such as: long-term financial sustainability; development of a prevention policy; promotion of the mechanism in the federal entities, where it is unknown; coordination with local authorities, some of whom reportedly lack the political will to collaborate; and steps to overcome the lack of trust on the part of some sectors of its target population.

There is also a need for the protection mechanism to work in coordination with the entities responsible for investigating attacks. As the Commission has previously pointed out, “the most effective way to protect…is by effectively investigating the acts of violence…and punishing the persons responsible.” This would enable the program to gain the trust of those it is trying to help.

Notwithstanding the progress mentioned above, in the context of threats, harassment, disappearances, and murders of journalists and human rights defenders the Commission was concerned to receive information with regard to ongoing challenges in the operation of the mechanism. According to the information the Commission received, the mechanism has had various types of administrative and operational problems. The delay in implementing measures, the failure to monitor their effectiveness, problems with non-functioning panic buttons, and the resulting lack of response on the part of the mechanism are the problems most often mentioned by some beneficiaries and civil society organizations. The IACHR also became aware of a lack of a gender perspective in the evaluation and adoption of protective measures as well as a differentiated approach for indigenous leaders.

In addition, the Commission views as positive the creation of the Commission for Assisting Journalists in Veracruz, which is responsible for implementing the mechanism for the protection of journalists in this state so critical for the practice of journalism. To date this mechanism has provided measures to a large number of journalists, but it faces the challenge of earning the trust of a significant part of the journalism profession and ensuring its financing and autonomy from the government in the long term. The Commission also noted the adoption of a law for the protection of journalists in Mexico City and will be attentive to its comprehensive implementation.

 

Impunity and Lack of Access to Justice

The IACHR received multiple reports in many areas of the country regarding the lack of justice for victims of gross human rights violations and their families. In particular, there are an alarming number of criminal proceedings that have remained stagnant for years in the investigation phase without criminal charges being brought and, therefore, without a conviction or final judgment. Despite the numerous complaints received by the CNDH and the various human rights commissions at the state level, and even some recommendations issued regarding such violations, the number of legal cases involving gross violations that have ended in convictions is extremely low. The lack of timely, effective, and reliable access to justice significantly weakens the culture of legality and the rule of law in the country. A first step in this sense ought to be solving crimes and assigning due criminal responsibilities for gross violations committed in the past, in order to break with the historic impunity that has dragged on for decades in Mexico. The fight against impunity at all levels of government, understood as a concrete and resolute State policy, is essential in order to regain citizens’ trust in the institutions of justice.

The reasons for the lack of access to justice in Mexico are varied. For one, the infiltration by organized crime groups into many municipal police departments and prosecutors’ offices significantly weakens the justice system. For another, the fact that some states have not codified certain crimes, as well as flaws in the definitions of crimes that do exist, complicates the prosecution of crimes that constitute gross human rights violations. In this sense, the lack of independence and autonomy of forensic agencies, both at the state and federal level, is a challenge for the State in the context of the implementation of the new criminal justice system. The IACHR also received repeated citizen requests to permanently strengthen and solidify judicial independence in Mexico. As part of the fight against impunity, and to ensure that criminal processes can be concluded with final judgments, it is essential to ensure that judges at all levels, as well as Supreme Court Justices, are independent of the political branches of the State, particularly during their selection and appointment process.

 

Recommendations

The current crisis of serious human rights violations Mexico is experiencing is both a cause and a consequence of the impunity that has persisted since what is known as the “dirty war” and that has contributed to its repetition up to the present.  In this context, the Commission presents the following recommendations to the State:

  • Develop a concrete plan for the gradual withdrawal of the Armed Forces from the tasks of public security and for the recuperation of this role by the civilian police. 
  • Take measures so that federal and state officials abstain from issuing public declarations that prejudge the legality of actions by security forces in cases that may constitute an undue use of force before the results of an investigation are available.
  • Adopt specific measures of protection for victims, their families, their representatives, witnesses, experts, and defenders who participate in the investigation or search for justice when they are at risk. Impose adequate sanctions in cases of reprisals against any of these persons.
  • Review the General Law on Victims and the functioning of the Executive Commission for Attention to Victims at the federal and state levels, in consultation with civil society organizations and victims, for the purposes of effective implementation. 
  • Adopt a National Law on Disappearance and Forced Disappearance and a National Law on Torture.  In this regard, all necessary measures should be taken to ensure that both at the federal and state levels, legislation and practices comply with international standards in this area.
  • Establish applicable federal and state guidelines on the collection of uniform statistics on grave violations of human rights. In particular, the State must improve the system for collecting information that is disaggregated, with a methodology that is consistent and transparent.
  • Establish mechanisms for the immediate search for disappeared persons throughout the national territory. Improve the National Registry of Disappeared Persons as a single registry for disappearances which also allows a person to be listed as having been the victim of forced disappearance. 
  • Create a national, autonomous forensic services institution with sufficient infrastructure, human and material resources, and standardized protocols applicable at the national level.
  • Establish a national registry on the location of unidentified remains in cases of violent death buried in cemeteries throughout the country. 
  • Maximize efforts to search for clandestine mass graves in states with high rates of violence.
  • Continue and deepen the work of the Forensic Commission to Identify Remains in the cases found along the routes followed by migrants. Adopt the measures necessary for the creation of a Transnational Mechanism for Access to Justice for Migrants and their Families, as well as the creation of a Special Prosecutor’s Office at the federal level for Crimes of Violence against Migrants.
  • Strengthen the forensic institutions so that they have registries of disappeared persons that are updated and reliable, and contain all the information necessary for the process of identification.
  • Develop a national diagnostic assessment of internal forced displacement in Mexico and adopt a national policy to deal with internal forced displacement in accordance with international standards in this area.
  • Create a Single National Registry of detained persons and ensure that detainees are placed under judicial control, subject to sanction in case of noncompliance.
  • Correct the excessive application of preventive detention, and apply it as an exceptional measure, making use of other preventive measures that do not involve the deprivation of liberty. In this framework, guarantee that detainees are immediately placed under judicial control, in order to restrict the use of detention absent judicial order in cases of presumed detention in flagrante or what is applied as its equivalent.
  • Eliminate the procedure of arraigo [holding prior to charge] from the Mexican legal system.
  • Investigate cases in which judges did not order an investigation when aware of denunciations or indicia of torture. Ensure that the Protocol of Instanbul is promptly applied at the national level, subject to sanction in the case of noncompliance.
  • Establish a coherent plan for cooperation between justice authorities at the federal and state levels for the purpose of investigating serious human rights violations, with a comprehensive perspective, specific protocols, and the adoption of criteria that are technical and professional rather than political when asserting federal jurisdiction [atracción] in investigations. 
  • Assume the historical responsibility to provide accountability for serious human rights violations.  As a priority, investigate, clarify and punish the violations committed during the era of the so-called Dirty War. 
  • Strengthen the mechanism of protection for human rights defenders and journalists, guaranteeing its economic sustainability in the long term and providing it with greater administrative autonomy and calling on the states to cooperate with it. The Commission recommends that the mechanism evaluate and adopt measures of protection that are differentiated for women, indigenous leaders and environmental defenders, measure the effectiveness of the measures implemented, develop collaboration and cooperation with the Attorney General’s Office, as well as augment the transparency of all the actions taken in order to increase the trust of beneficiaries in the system. The foregoing must be accompanied by a policy aimed at prevention, and with the participation of the population served.
  • In the case of Ayotzinapa, implement the recommendations of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts. The IACHR supports the request of the Group that the State replace the entire investigation team; name a special prosecutor; transfer the investigation of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General for Organized Crime to the Office of the Deputy Attorney General for Human Rights, Crime Prevention, and Community Services; follow the lines of investigation identified by the Interdisciplinary Group; and allow the experts to interview all witnesses, including the members of the 27th Infantry Battalion.   

 

Visits Held during the Commission’s Onsite Visit to Mexico

During its onsite visit, the Commission held meetings with government authorities from the three branches of the State, civil society organizations, and other people who came forward to present information concerning the human rights situation in Mexico. The IACHR met with the Minister-President of the Supreme Court, Luis María Aguilar Morales, and Ministers Alfredo Gutiérrez Ortiz Mena, Alberto Pérez Dayán, and Jorge Mario Pardo Rebolledo; with the Secretary of the Interior, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong; the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Claudia Ruiz Massieu; the President of the Senate, Roberto Gil Zuarth, and Senators Luis Sánchez Jiménez, Alejandro de Jesús Encinas Rodríguez, Hilda Esthela Flores Escalera, Angélica de la Peña, Fernando Yunez Márquez, Gabriela Cuevas Barrón, Mariana Gómez del Campo Gurza, Layda Sansores San Román, Enrique Burgos García, Manuel Bartlett, Miguel Barrosa Huerta, Luis Humberto Fernández Fuentes, Alejandro de Jesús Encinas Rodríguez, and Adriana Dávila Fernández; the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Jesús Zambrano; the President of the Political Coordination Group of the Chamber of Deputies, César Camacho; the Attorney General, Arely Gómez; the President of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), Raúl González Pérez; the Undersecretary of Human Rights of the Ministry of the Interior, Roberto Campa Cifrián; the Deputy Director General of the Human Rights Defense Unit of the Ministry of the Interior, Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo; the Head of Implementation of the Constitutional Reform at the Federal Council of the Judiciary, Juan José Olvera López; the Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS, Emilio Rabasa Gamboa; the Deputy Director General of the General Directorate on Human Rights and Democracy, Erasmo Lara Cabrera; the National Security Commissioner, Renato Sales Herrera; the Legal Adviser of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, Alejandro Alday González; the National Commissioner to Prevent and Eradicate Violence against Women (CONAVIM), Alejandra Negrete; the President of the National Council of Governors (CONAGO), Governor Eruviel Ávila; the Coordinator of the CONAGO Human Rights Commission, Governor Rubén Moreira; the Undersecretary for Prevention and Citizen Participation, Arturo Escobar y Vega; and the Commissioner General of the Federal Police, Enrique Francisco García Ceballos. At the National Commission of High Courts of Mexico (CONATRIB), the IACHR met with the President of the High Court of Justice and Council of the Judiciary of the Federal District, Edgar Elías Azar, as well as with the Presidents of the High Courts in the states of Aguascalientes, Juan Manuel Ponce Sánchez; of Durango, Apolonio Betancourt Ruíz; of Guerrero, Lambertina Galeana Marín; of Morelos, Nadia Luz María Lara Chávez; of Oaxaca, Alfredo Lagunas Rivera; of Puebla, Roberto Flores Toledano; of Sinaloa, José Antonio García Becerra; and of Tlaxcala, Elsa Cordero Martínez. It also met with Technical Secretary Alfredo Álvarez Cárdenas and with Criminal Court Judges: from the First Court, Eduardo Alfonso Guerrero  Martínez; the Second Court, Manuel Horacio Cavazos López; the Third Court, Elsa del Carmen Arzola Muñoz; the Fourth Court, Enrique Sánchez Sandoval; the Fifth Court, Salvador Ávalos Sandoval; the Sixth Court, María de Jesús Medel Díaz; the Sixth Court, Ramón Alejandro Sentíes Carriles; the Seventh Court, Raúl Jaime Campos Rábago; the Eighth Court, José Guadalupe Carrera Domínguez; and the Ninth Court, Joel Blanno García. The IACHR also met with the Commissioner of the Administrative Agency for Prevention and Social Rehabilitation, Eduardo Guerrero; the General Coordinator of Federal Facilities, Emanuel Castillo Ruíz; the Head of the Unit for Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Administrative Agency for Prevention and Social Rehabilitation, Raúl Salvador Ferráez Arreola; the President of the Executive Commission for Attention to Victims, Sergio Jaime Rochín del Rincón; the Head of the Human Rights Defense Unit of the Ministry of the Interior, Sara Irene Herrerías Guerra; the Deputy Attorney General for Legal and International Affairs of the Attorney General’s Office, José Alberto Rodríguez Calderón; and the Undersecretary for Population, Migration, and  Religious Affairs, Humberto Roque Villanueva. In addition, the IACHR met with members of the Secretariat for National Defense (SEDENA); the Secretariat of the Navy (SEMAR); officials from the Attorney General’s Office (PGR); the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance  (COMAR); the Commissioner of the National Migration Institute (INM), Ardelio Vargas; the Coordination Council for the Implementation of the Criminal Justice System (SETEC) and its Head, María de los Ángeles Fromow Rangel; the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), Ricardo Nájera Herrera; the Governing Board of the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists; the National Institute of Women (INMUJERES); the National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence against Women (CONAVIM); and the Executive Commission for Attention to Victims (CEAV). It also met with the Deputy Representative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico, Jesús Peña Palacios; the Human Rights Officer of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico, Alán García Campos; the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts; and the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF).

In its visit to federal entities, the IACHR met with the following officials: the Head of Government of the Federal District (Mexico City), Miguel Ángel Mancera; the President of the Mexico City Human Rights Commission (CDHDF), Perla Gómez; and other CDHDF officials. In the state of Guerrero, it met with Governor Salvador Rogelio Ortega Martínez; Governor-Elect Héctor Astudillo Flores and his team; the Secretary of Public Security, Pedro Almazán Cervantes; the Guerrero Public Prosecutor, Miguel Ángel Godínez Muñoz; and the Deputy Director General of Institutional Liaison, Ricardo Sánchez. In the state of Tabasco, the IACHR met with Governor Arturo Núñez; the Secretary of the Interior, César Raúl Ojeda Zubieta; the President of the State Human Rights Commission, Jesús Manuel Argáez de los Santos; the Secretary of Public Security, General Sergio Ricardo Martínez Ruiz; the State Attorney General, Fernando Valenzuela Pernas; the General Coordinator of Legal Affairs, Juan José Peralta; the Federal Delegate of the National Migration Institute of Tabasco, Eduardo Hernández Dighero; the Deputy Attorney General for Human Rights and Comprehensive Victim Assistance of the State Attorney General’s Office, Juan Sibaja Contreras; the Deputy Director of Assistance for Human Rights Defenders at the Human Rights Defense Unit, Mariana Franco González; and the Attorney for the Office of Cases at the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, Guillermo Díaz Ordaz Rigada. In the state of Veracruz, the IACHR met with the Governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte Ochoa; the State Attorney General, Luis Ángel Bravo; the Secretary of Public Security, Arturo Bermúdez; the Director General of Integral Family Development (DIF), Astrid Elías Mansur; the Legal Director of the Veracruz DIF, Armando Ruiz Sánchez; the Executive Secretary of the State Commission to Assist and Protect Journalists, Namiko Matzumoto Benítez; the State Prosecutor for the Protection of Children and Adolescents, Adelina Trujillo Landa; the Adviser for Legal Affairs and Citizen Rights in the Governor’s Office, José Ramón Cárdeno; and the State Director General of Enforcement of Punitive Measures, Juan Carlos Espino. In the state of Nuevo León, the IACHR delegation met with the Governor, Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz; the Secretary General of Government, Felipe González Alanís; the Head of the Governor’s Executive Office, Jorge Domene; the Attorney General, Javier Enrique Flores; and the Secretary of Public Security, Alfredo Flores Gómez. In the state of Coahuila, the IACHR delegation met with the Governor, Rubén Moreira Valdez; the Secretary of Government, Víctor Manuel Zamora Rodríguez; the State Attorney General, Homero Ramos Gloria; the President of the State Victims Commission, Luis Efrén Ríos Vega; the Head of the Human Rights Unit of the Executive Branch, Federico Garza Blanco; the Deputy Prosecutor for Human Rights and Special Investigations of the State Attorney General’s Office (PGJE), Liberto Hernández Ortiz; the Deputy Ministerial Prosecutor of the PGJE, Norberto Ontiveros Leza; the Prosecutor for Children and Families, Yezka García Ramírez; and the President of the Board of Directors of Congress, Human Rights Commission, and local Congressional Deputy, Georgina Cano Torralba.

In addition, the IACHR met with the following civil society organizations: Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos, A. C.; Acción con Pueblos Migrantes (VM-APM); Acción Urgente para Defensores de Derechos Humanos, A.C. (ACUDDEH); Agenda LGBT, A.C.; Agrupación de Derechos Humanos Xochitepetl A.C., Albergue Casa del Caminante Static; Alconsumidor A.C.; Alianza Sierra Madre, A.C.; Altépetl Nahuas de la Montaña, A.C.; Amnesty International; Archdiocese of Acapulco; Article 19 Office for Mexico and Central America; Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos y Víctimas de Violaciones a los Derechos Humanos en México, AFADEM-FEDEFAM; Asociación Jalisciense de Apoyo a Grupos Indígenas, A.C. (AJAGI); Asociación Mexicana de Abogados del Pueblo; Asylum Access México; AVANCE Por los Derechos de México, A.C.; AVC Noticias; Buscando a nuestros Desaparecidos y Desaparecidas, Veracruz; Casa del Caminante jTatic Samuel Ruiz García; Casa del Migrante Casa Nicolás; Casa del Migrante de Saltillo; Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador; Centro de Colaboración Cívica, A.C.; Centro de Derechos Humanos "Bartolome Carrasco Briseño"; Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña "Tlachinollan"; Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres (CEDEM); Centro de Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos del Sur Veracruz "Bety Cariño"; Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, A.C.; Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Francisco de Vitoria, OP, A.C.; Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova A.C.; Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez; Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte; Centro de Derechos Humanos Toaltepeyolo; Centro de Derechos Humanos y Alternativas Sociales Las Tepehuas, A.C.; Centro de Derechos Humanos y Asesoría a Pueblos Indígenas A.C.; Centro de Derechos Humanos Zeferino Ladrillero; Centro de Desarrollo y Atención Psicológica, A.C. (CEDAPI); Centro de Estudios Sociales y Culturales Antonio de Montesinos, A. C.; Centro de Investigación y Capacitación Propuesta Cívica A.C. (CIC-PC); Centro Fray Julián Garcés; Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental A.C. (CEMDA); Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social, A.C. (CENCOS); Centro para los Derechos Humanos Fray Juan de Larios, A.C.; Centro Penitenciario Varonil Saltillo; Centro Regional de Defensa de Derechos Humanos José María Morelos y Pavón; Ciencia Forense Ciudadana; Ciudadanos en Apoyo a los Derechos Humanos A.C. (CADHAC); International Human Rights Clinic, Seattle University; Closet Sor Juana, A.C.; Colectivo Contra la Tortura e Impunidad, A.C. (CCTI); Colectivo Contra la Trata de Personas; Colectivo de Análisis de la Seguridad con Democracia A.C (CASEDE); Colectivo Defensa Verde Naturaleza para Siempre; Colectivo por la Paz Xalapa; Colectivo Red de Madres; Colectivo Sí a la Vida; Colectivo Ustedes Somos Nosotros; Comisión Independiente de Derechos Humanos de Morelos; Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos (CMDPDH); Comité Cerezo México; Comité de Derechos Humanos de Colima No Gubernamental A.C.; Comité de Derechos Humanos de Nuevo Laredo; Comité de Esclarecimiento de los Años; Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos Hasta Encontrarlos; Comité de familiares de Migrantes del Centro Honduras (COFAMICENH); Comité de Familiares de Migrantes Desaparecidos y fallecidos de El Salvador (COFAMIDE); Comité de Familiares Desaparecidos del Progreso Honduras (COFAMIPRO); Comité de Familias de Desaparecidos y Asesinados de Guerrero; Comité de viudas de la masacre del Charco; Comité Independiente de Solidaridad con los Caídos del 60; Comité para la Libertad Veracruz; Comunicación e Información de la Mujer A.C. (CIMAC); Comunidad de Ostula; Comunidad Indígena de San Miguel Aquila; Consultoría Técnica Comunitaria A.C. (CONTEC); Contingente MX; Coordinación Jurídica Retoño; Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores de la Educación Guerrero (CETEG); Coordinadora Regional de Autoridades Comunitarias Policía Comunitaria (CRAC PC); Defensoría y estrategias integrales para los derechos humanos y territoriales; Desarrollo Autogestionario A.C.; Desplazados de Copala; Deudos y defensores; Dignidad de nuestros desaparecidos; Diario de Xalapa; Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas; Documenta, análisis y acción para la justicia social, A.C.; E-Consulta; El Barzón; El Solecito Veracruz; Elige Red de Jóvenes Por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos A.C.; Enlaces Nacionales; Equifonía Colectivo por la Ciudadanía; Autonomía y Libertad de las Mujeres, A.C.; Equis Justicia para las Mujeres; Eslabones Morelos; Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales de la UNAM; Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey (FLDM); Familiares de los 43 desaparecidos de Ayotzinapa; Familias Unidas por los Desaparecidos en Piedras Negras; Federación Mexicana Pro Derechos Humanos “POS ME AMPARO”A.C.; Freedom House Mexico; Fuerzas Unidas por Nuestros Desaparecidos en Coahuila; Fundación Arcoiris por el respeto a la diversidad sexual, A.C.; Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho A.C. (FJEDD); Fundar Centro de Análisis e Investigación, A.C.; Grupo Imagen Multimedia; Cambio Digital; H.I.J.O.S. México; I(dh)eas Litigio Estratégico en Derechos Humanos, A.C.; Imagen del Golfo Colectivo; Incidencia política Advocacy; Indignación, Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos A.C.; Instituto de Derechos Humanos Ignacio Ellacuría SJ; Instituto Mexicano de Derechos Humanos y Democracia A.C.; Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC, A.C.); Instituto para la Seguridad y Democracia (INSYDE, A.C.); Instituto para las Mujeres y la Migración (IMUMI); International Detention Coalition (IDC); Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM); Justicia, Derechos Humanos y Género, A.C.; Kalli Luz Marina, A.C.; Kinal Antzetik Guerrero, A.C.; La Asamblea Veracruzana de Iniciativas y Defensa Ambiental (LAVIDA); La 72 Hogar-Refugio para Personas Migrantes; La Jornada Veracruz; La Red por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos en México (LEDESER); La Silla Rota; La Unión Medellín; Las Reinas Chulas Cabaret y Derechos Humanos A.C.; Litiga, Organización de Litigio Estratégico de Derechos Humanos, A.C. (Litiga OLE); Litigio Estratégico sobre Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos relacionados con la población LGBTI en México; Los Otros Desaparecidos de Iguala; Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano (MMM); Noticias de Veracruz; Observatorio Latinoamericano de Regulación, Medios y Convergencia; MacArthur Foundation’s Office in Mexico; Organización de Campesinos Ecologistas de la Sierra de Petatlán; Organización Familia Pasta de Conchos (OFPC); Periodistas de a Pie; Plataforma de Vinculación con Periodistas; Proceso, Semanario de Información y Análisis; Programas de Incidencia de la Universidad Iberoamericana, Ciudad de México; Proyecto sobre Organización, Desarrollo, Educación e Investigación (PODER); Puebla Libre; Radio Huayacocotla; Red ciudadana de no violencia y dignidad humana; Red Cívica Ciudadana (RECIVE); Red de Radios Comunitarias de México, A.C./AMARC-México; Red Eslabones por los Derechos Humanos and members of the Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad; Red Nacional de Defensoras México; Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos; Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos; Red por los Derechos de la Infancia en México (REDIM); Red Solidaria Década contra la Impunidad; Red Unidos por los Derechos Humanos; SDP Noticias; Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes (SJM); Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz A.C (SERAPAZ); Siempre Vivos, A.C.; Sin Fronteras I.A.P.; Sindicato Minero, A.C.; Taller de Desarrollo Comunitario, Guerrero (TADECO); Unión de barres y familiares de desaparecidos en Sinaloa; Unión Empresarial del Comercio y los Servicios (UCEZ); Unión Popular de Vendedores Ambulantes 28 de octubre (UPVA); Universidad Iberoamericana; University of Manchester, England; Universidad Veracruzana; Voces Mexicanas; Voces Unidas por la Vida; El Fuerte; Voz Alterna; W Radio; and Zacatecanos por la Paz. The IACHR also met with victims of human rights violations and their relatives, who provided testimony.

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

No. 112A/15