Mexico: Amnesty International issues warning about lack of progress on human rights after one year of the new government

Nearly one year after Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office as president, his government has failed to make substantial progress on resolving the human rights crisis in Mexico, said Amnesty International today, when presenting an assessment of some of the most important issues on the national agenda, in the report “When words are not enough”.

“President López Obrador's government has shown it is willing to take some measures on some issues, especially on disappearances in the country. However, after one year in government, there has been no substantial change in the lives of the millions of people facing an extremely serious human rights crisis that has now lasted for more than a decade. The extremely high levels of violence that threaten the right to life, the widespread use of torture, the alarming levels of violence against women and a militarized public security strategy that is as present as ever are all signs of the tragic situation in Mexico,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

In August, the government took a positive step when it confirmed that Mexico would accept the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances to examine reports on individual cases, addressing one of the repeated demands made by families of disappeared persons and human rights organizations. However, the government has not yet implemented this measure.

“There is an enormous inconsistency between what the government says and what it does. It promises more humane treatment for migrants who need international protection but sends the National Guard to pursue and detain them. It says it will protect human rights defenders and journalists, but publicly discredits them. It is worrying that human rights violations continue to be the rule in Mexico rather than the exception”, added Erika Guevara-Rosas.

There is an enormous inconsistency between what the government says and what it does. It promises more humane treatment for migrants who need international protection but sends the National Guard to pursue and detain them. It says it will protect human rights defenders and journalists, but publicly discredits them
Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director for Amnesty International

President López Obrador's government has not moved far from the highly militarized security strategy of his predecessors, it has refused to recognize that torture is commonplace and has hardened the country’s stance on migration. It has also unduly restricted and put at risk the freedom of peaceful assembly and has consistently stigmatized journalists and civil society organizations that have criticized its policies, maintaining the hostile environment against journalists and human rights defenders and their organizations.

Furthermore, gender-based violence against women and girls remains widespread in Mexico. Government policies and the introduction of legislation have not been enough to deal with the growing number of killings, disappearances and other grave human rights violations of the rights of women and girls throughout the country. Although the government took a positive step in September, when it introduced a parliamentary bill that could pave the way for an amnesty for women who have had an abortion, there is still much to do to guarantee sexual and reproductive rights in the country.

“Many challenges remain on the issue of gender-based violence. The most urgent is to eradicate femicides. Between January and 30 September this year, there were 748 victims of femicide in Mexico, with the monthly number rising. There is no sign of practical short- or medium-term measures that would overcome the reluctance to correctly investigate cases of femicide and end impunity”, said Tania Reneaum Panszi, executive director at Amnesty International Mexico.

Amnesty International believes that substantial progress on human rights requires the government to stop blaming previous governments for the situation, accept responsibility for what is happening right now, seek solutions to the serious problems in this field and make human rights and Mexico’s international obligations an essential component of all its policies.

The organization’s recommendations to the López Obrador administration call on it to: demilitarize the National Guard; formulate a comprehensive public policy to prevent and protect human rights defenders and journalists who focus on public interest and community issues; end the illegal practice of turning back irregular migrants and provide asylum to people whose life is at risk; and conduct thorough, independent and impartial investigations into the gender-based killing of women.

Other issues that the government must urgently address include the rights of indigenous peoples and the protection of their territories, violence against LGBTI people, sexual and reproductive rights and social and economic rights.

President López Obrador's government has a strong mandate and a historical opportunity to change the country's direction. We urge it to step up to the challenge of beginning a new stage in the country's history, one that respects the human rights of all people
Tania Reneaum Panszi, executive director at Amnesty International Mexico

“President López Obrador's government has a strong mandate and a historical opportunity to change the country's direction. We urge it to step up to the challenge of beginning a new stage in the country's history, one that respects the human rights of all people”, said Tania Reneaum Panszi.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Duncan Tucker (Amnesty International, Americas): duncan.tucker@amnesty.org

Alejandro Juárez (Amnesty International, Mexico): prensa@amnistia.org.mx