Mexican government’s report to UN fails to acknowledge human rights reality

A Mexican government report about the state of human rights in the country does not reflect the reality on the ground, according to Amnesty International.

Submitted to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, the report fails to acknowledge the frequent lack of implementation or impact of the Mexican government’s policies. It also fails to acknowledge the worsening human rights climate in many parts of the country.

Mexico is one of 16 countries up for review at the fourth session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council, which started in Geneva on 2 February. Mexico’s review is scheduled for Tuesday.

“The government report’s list of positive initiatives and reforms is good news,” said Kerrie Howard, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International. “The problem is there is no information on progress in preventing continuing human rights violations and ending impunity.”

Amnesty International has contributed a series of alternative reports to the current round of reviews detailing key human rights concerns in 12 of the 16 countries that are up for review. The organization’s report on Mexico noted that:

Mexico has so far failed to explicitly recognize the status of international human rights treaties in its Constitution.
The authorities have yet to hold anyone to account for the 100 killings and 700 enforced disappearances that took place between the 1960s and 1980s.
Mexican federal, state and municipal police officers implicated in serious human rights violations, such as arbitrary detention, torture, rape and unlawful killings, particularly those committed during civil disturbances in San Salvador Atenco and Oaxaca City in 2006, have not been brought to justice.
The military justice system continues to try cases of human rights violations despite international human rights standards insisting these should be tried in civilian courts.
The number of reports of abuses such as arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, sexual violence and unlawful killings by security officials has increased during security operations to combat violent criminal gangs.
Human rights defenders, particular those in rural areas, often face persecution and sometimes prolonged detention on the basis of fabricated or politically-motivated criminal charges.
Indigenous and other marginalized communities sometimes face harassment for opposing development projects affecting their livelihoods.
Irregular migrants in transit in Mexico routinely face ill-treatment by state officials as well as sexual and other violence at the hands of criminal gangs.
Despite advances in legislation to protect women from violence, implementation is weak. Reporting, prosecution and conviction rates for those responsible for domestic violence, rape and even killings of women remain extremely low. Two years after the adoption of the 2007 General Law to prevent violence against women, two states have not even introduced legislation to enforce it.
Poverty and marginalization continue to deprive many rural communities, particularly indigenous peoples, of the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to development, in accordance with their own needs and interests.

“Amnesty International recognizes that Mexico’s report highlights the open invitation to international human rights mechanisms,” said Kerry Howard. “And given the country’s key role in the design of the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council, the organization hopes the government will use this as an opportunity to reinvigorate its efforts to address human rights problems in Mexico.”

The UPR is the first-ever UN mechanism to look systematically at the human rights records of all 192 UN member states. From 2008-2011, 48 countries will be reviewed each year, 16 in each of the UPR Working Group’s three annual sessions.

Governments scheduled for examination by the Human Rights Council this month include China, Cuba, Germany, Nigeria, the Russian Federation, and Saudi Arabia. The current UPR session is scheduled to run until 13 February.