Annual Report: Mexico 2011

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Mexico 2011

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The military justice system continued to claim jurisdiction in such cases, while the civilian judicial authorities refused to investigate. Little information was available on progress of military prosecutions, but no serving military official was known to have been convicted of human rights violations during the year. Government proposals for limited legislative reform to military jurisdiction did not guarantee that human rights violations would be excluded from the military justice system.

  • On 19 March, Javier Francisco Arredondo and Jorge Antonio Mercado Alonso, two students at a private university in Monterrey, were killed when the military opened fire on suspected members of a criminal gang. A CNDH investigation into the case showed that the military planted guns on the students and destroyed crime scene evidence to falsely accuse the victims of belonging to a criminal gang. There were no further advances reported in the investigation by the end of the year.
  • On 3 April, two brothers aged five and nine - Bryan and Martín Almanza - were shot and killed by the army, according to eyewitnesses, while travelling by car with their family in Tamaulipas state. Military and civilian authorities denied military responsibility, but the CNDH demonstrated that the crime scenes had been altered and evidence ignored. No information was available on progress in the investigation, which remained under military jurisdiction at the end of the year.

Police forces

Reports of arbitrary detention, torture, excessive use of force and enforced disappearance by municipal, state and federal police forces continued. Attempts to reform the police were undermined by the failure to establish credible oversight controls or conduct effective criminal investigations into human rights abuses.

  • In May, six municipal police officers were detained in Cárdenas, Tabasco state, by members of the organized crime unit of the Federal Attorney General's Office. They were reportedly nearly asphyxiated with plastic bags, subjected to electric shocks and beaten during interrogation. No information was available at the end of the year on the investigation into the allegations of torture.

Irregular migrants

Tens of thousands of migrants heading for the USA faced abduction, rape and murder by criminal gangs as they travelled through Mexico. Often these crimes were carried out with the knowledge, complicity or acquiescence of federal, state or municipal police. Those responsible for the abuses were rarely held to account. The appointment of a special prosecutor in Chiapas state was one of the few successful initiatives to investigate abuses against migrants. The government announced improved co-ordination of federal and state agencies to tackle the issue. Some migration legislation was reformed to allow migrants to file criminal complaints and receive emergency medical care.

  • In August, 72 mainly Central American migrants were killed by a criminal gang in Tamaulipas state. Eight suspects were later arrested in connection with the killings.

Staff and volunteers at church-based shelters providing humanitarian assistance to migrants faced intimidation and threats.

Freedom of expression - journalists

Threats and attacks on journalists and media outlets continued. At least six journalists were killed. Criminal gangs particularly targeted journalists covering crime issues. In some states, local media outlets self-censored, avoiding coverage of such stories. The Federal Attorney General's Office renewed commitments to investigate these offences. However, the vast majority remained unresolved. A government protection programme for journalists was agreed but not operational by the end of the year.