In a harsh and unpleasant session, members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) severely questioned the Mexican government not only because of the direct attacks against one of its functionaries, but also because of the negative way in which it has reacted to the critical report about the grave human rights situation in the country.
In an especially harsh tone, Commissioner Enrique Gil Botero said that refusing to recognize that there are situations where these rights are violated is being out of touch with reality. This attitude, he added, “is one of the first manifestations of schizophrenia.”
Commissioner Paulo Vannuchi denounced “the strong attack by Mexico’s public authorities” on the work of the IACHR’s Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, the group’s initials in Spanish), and the “irreparable harm” inflicted on their Executive Secretary Emilio Álvarez Icaza, a Mexican.
“It’s a bit cowardly because it must have been an attack on the Commission. All of Emilio’s work was in the name of the commissioners,” he added.
Vannuchi recognized that the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto rejected the complaint, but he emphasized that the case would serve to discourage Mexico’s public institutions and those of other countries from accepting those kinds of accusations.
So, in the first of four public hearings about cases in Mexico, dedicated to a general review of human rights in the country, the IACHR called Mexico out for the “strong attack” on its Executive Secretary and the criticisms thrown at a group of experts from the organism that investigate the disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Guerrero, on the 26 and 27 of September 2014.
In the beginning, during the development of the hearing, the civil organizations representatives of the Mexican government discussed the situation of rights in Mexico, but the accusations against the human rights body stopped it.
A few weeks ago, in a complaint that the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) accepted and later rejected, a citizen accused the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Emilio Álvarez Icaza, of “fraud” in the investigation into the disappearance of the 43 teachers college students. The same Executive Secretary has complained that a “defamation campaign” exists in Mexico against members of the GIEI, who investigate what happened to the students.
And while the Mexican government has praised the investigation and the experts’ recommendations, the group’s work has not been exempt from confrontations and differences with Mexican institutions.
Just last Wednesday, the GIEI warned that it will break with the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) if it does not clear up questions about a new expert examination of the Cocula garbage dump, with which it seeks to validate the official version presented in November 2014, according to which Iguala police attacked the young men and delivered them to gunmen for the Guerreros Unidos Cartel, who would have murdered them and incinerated their bodies in said garbage dump. However, this new test result is “preliminary.”
In other sessions on Mexico –within the context of the 157th session of the IACHR–specific themes were brought up like the rights of individuals deprived of freedom (detainees) and privatization of the prison system; the disappearances of minors of age, and access to information and indirect restrictions on freedom of expression.
The Mexican government only requested the first one; the remaining three were requested by national civil society organizations.
Freedom of expression
On the other hand, the commissioners and Edison Lanza, the IACHR’s special relator for the Freedom of Expression, asked the Mexican government a series of questions about the theme of freedom of expression, to which Assistant Foreign Relations Secretary Miguel Ruiz Cabañas committed to respond in writing.
The relator asked the government of Enrique Peña Nieto to permit him, together with the United Nations relator for Freedom of Expression, to visit Mexico in order to bring up and observe the lack of transparency theme, harassment of the press and the murder of journalists, on a date in the second half of this year, probably in September, according to what he proposed.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Friday, April 8, 2016
Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee