By: David Brooks, Correspondent
New York, March 2, 2016
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) affirmed in an annual report on Mexico that the disappearance of the 43 Aytozinapa students is “an emblematic example of apparent collusion between State agents and members of organized crime,” and emphasizes that it is an example of the “grave deficiencies” of investigations into these kinds of cases, such as the “structural and almost absolute impunity” in the grave crimes that occur in the country.
“Mexico is going through a grave crisis of violence and security since several years ago,” in large measure because of the “war against drug trafficking” impelled by ex president Felipe Calderón, and by increasing the role of the armed forces in tasks of public security “even greater violence has been let loose, as well as grave human rights violations in which one observes a lack of accountability in accordance with international standards,” points out the extensive annual report entitled The situation of human rights in Mexico, which the IACHR issued today.
Without “substantial changes”
In a summary of the human rights violations and impunity, the report emphasizes that “substantial changes” in security policies are not offered under the current regime, while disappearances, extrajudicial executions and torture continue, as well as women’s insecurity, migrants, human rights defenders and journalists.
Although it recognizes the measures that the government of Enrique Peña Nieto has taken, among them some constitutional reforms and protocols for the investigation of certain human rights abuses, it indicates that: “the State response faces deficiencies, insufficiencies and obstacles in their implementation. The IACHR established a profound breech between the legislative and judicial scaffolding and the daily reality that millions of people in the country experience in their access to justice, prevention of crime and other government initiatives. Time after time, throughout the country, the IACHR heard from victims that the procurement of justice is a simulation.’’
In fact, it emphasizes that despite the change of government at the end of 2012, “there would not be substantial changes in relation to security policies and the levels of violence,” and it’s clear about all the denunciations of disappearances, extrajudicial executions, torture and citizen insecurity, but especially of women, migrants, human rights defenders and journalists.
It affirms that: “Mexico is also considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for exercising journalism, excepting those that are at war.” It quotes the United Nations High Commissioner on the number of 151,233 homicides from 2006 to August 2015. It also points out that on September 30, 2015 the Mexican State reported 26,798 persons “not located” or disappeared on a national scale.
Around the disappearances, “not a new phenomenon,” the IACHR considers the information “grave” about “the existence of a practice of enforced disappearances at the hands of State agents,” or with their participation and an almost total impunity.
It criticizes the failures in the investigations about the disappearances and emphasized that: “the current crisis of grave human rights violations that pierces Mexico is in part a consequence of the impunity that persists since the guerra sucia (dirty war) and that has championed its repetition until today.” Moreover, it affirms that relatives of the victims have reluctance of going to the authorities, as much because of suspicions of complicity as because of lack of attention.
“The relatives’ finding of graves with dozens of cadavers set forth clearly that they are the ones that faced with the State’s lack of action have assumed the search for loved ones, while the authorities don’t fulfill their duty to investigate, find, identify and deliver the victims with due diligence, as they should.”
In this context, the report broaches the enforced disappearance of the 43 normalistas in Ayotzinapa, which ‘‘constitutes a grave tragedy in Mexico, as well as a call for national and international attention about the disappearances in that country.” The case, it adds, “is a sample of the grave deficiencies that investigations about these acts suffer and the structural and almost absolute impunity in which these grave crimes usually remain. It’s also an emblematic example of the apparent collusion between State agents and members of organized crime.”
At the same time, the IACHR manifests its “gratitude” for the “opening” of the Mexican State to international scrutiny and the work of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, the group’s initials in Spanish) around the facts of Iguala.
The report also focuses on the use of violence by agents of the State, including the cases of Tlatlaya, in the state of Mexico in 2014; the Apatzingán case, and the confrontation at the border between Tanhuato and Ecuandureo, Michoacán in 2015, making clear the necessity of measures for authorities to render accounts.
“The practice of torture in Mexico is alarming and is also generalized,” the report states. According to official numbers, the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) has, as of the month of April 2015, 2,420 investigations in process about torture, but only 15 judicial sentences exist for that crime on the federal level. It adds that in the investigation into the facts in Iguala –even with its high profile– 77 percent of the individuals investigated showed bodily injuries.
In its diagnostic, the Inter-American Commission points out that: “the lack of access to justice has created a situation of impunity of a structural character that has the effect of perpetuating and in certain cases impelling the repetition of grave human rights violations. The threats, harassment, murders and disappearances of persons that seek truth and justice have generated an intimidation in Mexican society.”
Therefore, it concludes: “In actuality, the challenge for the Mexican State is to close the existing gap between its legal framework and its unlimited support for human rights with the reality that a large number of inhabitants experience when they seek prompt and effective justice. The State’s big challenge lies in breaking the cycle of reining impunity for the purpose of attaining an effective prevention, investigation, processing and sanction of those responsible for human rights violations.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee