Annual Report: Mexico 2011

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Mexico 2011

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Head of state and government: Felipe Calderón Hinojosa
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 110.6 million
Life expectancy: 76.7 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 22/18 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 92.9 per cent

Thousands of people were abducted and killed by criminal gangs. Police and military forces deployed to combat gangs were responsible for grave human rights violations. Serious deficiencies in the judicial system and oversight mechanisms persisted and impunity for human rights violations was the norm. Several human rights defenders and journalists were killed, threatened and harassed. Promised protection measures and new procedures to investigate attacks were still pending at the end of the year. Irregular migrants were routinely targeted for abduction, rape and murder; the mass killing of 72 migrants revealed the scale and systematic nature of the abuses committed against them. Legislative measures were insufficient to prevent and punish widespread violence against women. The National Supreme Court (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, SCJN) issued several landmark rulings on human rights cases. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Inter-American Court) issued judgements against Mexico for grave human rights violations committed by the armed forces. There were no advances in ending impunity for past human rights violations committed during Mexico's "dirty war" (1964-1982). Many Indigenous communities continued to have limited access to basic services. Five prisoners of conscience were released.


The government recorded more than 15,000 gang-related killings, particularly in the northern states. The majority of these occurred in conflicts between drug cartels and other criminal gangs, but an unknown number also resulted from clashes with police and security forces. In Ciudad Juárez, nearly 3,000 people were killed, including several mass killings of young people. Drug rehabilitation centres were targeted and scores of patients were killed in different states. More than 50 soldiers and 600 police officers were killed in gang-related violence. Police were suspected of widespread involvement with criminal gangs. Passers-by and other members of the public were also killed, forcing thousands to flee their homes. Violence spread to new regions of the country. Prosecutions of those responsible for the killings were rare.

The US government continued to provide security and other transfers to Mexico as part of the Merida Initiative, a three-year regional co-operation and security agreement. However, the State Department recommended that Congress withhold approval of a small proportion of funds as the Mexican government had failed to meet human rights conditions.

A number of legal reforms affecting the constitutional recognition of international human rights treaties, the National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH), the criminal justice system, policing, national security, and the role of the military in law enforcement and military jurisdiction were still pending before Congress at the end of the year. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report on the situation of human rights defenders. The SCJN dismissed legal challenges to Mexico City's legalization of same-sex marriages and adoption.

Police and security forces

The military

There were further reports of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention by members of the military. The CNDH registered 1,163 complaints of abuses by the military and in November reported ongoing investigations into more than 100 complaints of unlawful killings by the armed forces in the 18 months to November 2010.