Mexico government committed 'crimes against humanity'

2016-06-07 10:22
Federal police stand next to a bullet riddled and burned car after a criminal gang ambushed a police convoy near the town of Soyatlan, near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. (AP)

Federal police stand next to a bullet riddled and burned car after a criminal gang ambushed a police convoy near the town of Soyatlan, near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. (AP)

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Mexico City - Mexican authorities and a feared gang have committed "crimes against humanity" during the country's decade-long drug war, a US-based non-governmental organisation said on Monday.

A report by the Open Society Justice Initiative, which seeks to combat human rights abuses around the world, said more than 150 000 people were "murdered intentionally" and thousands more disappeared between 2006-2015.

The New York-based organisation found "reasonable grounds" to conclude that crimes against humanity were committed by "state and non-state actors," namely the Zetas drug cartel.

The report said President Enrique Pena Nieto's government "must act without delay to recognise the gravity of the situation."

Organised terrorism

The Justice Initiative said the goal of the report is not for the International Criminal Court to take up the cases.

Rather, the objective "is for the authors of these atrocious crimes to be tried with all the weight of the law, independently of their origin, in their own jurisdiction," it added.

But the report said the international tribunal should remain an option "if Mexico systematically continues to not investigate and try atrocious crimes."

The government denied committing any crimes against humanity.

A government statement said that in the "exceptional cases" that local or federal officials have violated human rights, they have been put on trial and sentenced.

"The immense majority of violent crimes have been committed by criminal organisations," the statement said.

The Justice Initiative's report singles out the Zetas, saying the cartel has maintained control of its territories by terrorising the population with murders, disappearances and torture in "an extremely organised way."


Mexican police and soldiers have faced multiple allegations of human rights abuses since then-president Felipe Calderon deployed troops to crack down on drug traffickers in December 2006.

Abuses have continued under Pena Nieto's administration, which took office in 2012 and has insisted on keeping troops deployed across the country until security is restored.

One of the most high-profile cases is the 2014 disappearance of 43 students in the southern state of Guerrero after their abduction by police in league with a drug cartel.

The military, for its part, came under fire over allegations that soldiers committed extrajudicial killings of at least eight of 22 gang suspects who died after a gunfight. But courts cleared all seven soldiers who were charged in the case.

But the government said that complaints filed with the National Human Rights Commission have dropped from 1 450 in 2012 to 538 in 2015.

The Justice Initiative urged the authorities to invite international help to investigate human rights abuses, but the government said it had the "capacity and willingness" to combat such cases.

"The government recognises that it faces important challenges regarding human rights," the statement said. "However, it has emphatically condemned all human rights violations."

Read more on:    mexico  |  narcotics

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