The UN Committee against Torture is seriously concerned by the excessive use of force by police authorities in Mexico

Press release
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On 27 November 2006, the United Nations Committee Against Torture published its concluding observations following the examination of the fourth periodic report of Mexico.

In its submissions to the Committee, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) expressed concern particularly in relation to the question of violence against women (1) and use of excessive violence by police forces to control social protest movements (2).

FIDH, Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (LIMEDDH) and the Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y promoción de los derechos humano (CMDPDH) - its member organizations in Mexico would like to welcome the efforts undertaken by Mexico to enhance its cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms, particularly treaty monitoring bodies. In the past months, Mexico has submitted itself to examination by six of the seven treaty bodies. It has also recently ratified several instruments, including the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court, the Interamerican Convention on Enforced Disappearances, etc. Finally FIDH welcomes the declaration made by Mexico on 15 March 2002 under Article 22 of the CAT by which the State recognizes the competence of the Committee to hear individual complaints of torture brought by individuals.

On a more worrying tone, FIDH shares the serious concerns expressed by the Committee in its paragraph 18 in relation to the recent use of excessive force by police authorities to control social protests, particularly in Guadalajara, Jalisco, on 28 May 2004, in San Salvador Atenco, on 3 and 4 May 2006, and more recently in Oaxaca. In its report on Oaxaca FIDH states that violent acts committed by the police forces included in particular, extrajudicial killings, acts of torture and violence, arbitrary and incommunicado detentions, sexual violence, threats and other abuses.

In that sense, FIDH urges Mexico to carry out a prompt, effective and impartial investigation into the repression of social protests and to ensure that those responsible for those acts are prosecuted and receive appropriate punishments. Moreover Mexico must take all measures necessary to ensure that such incidents do not happen again. « The Government of Mexico must send a strong message to law enforcement authorities - be they local, state or federal authorities - that such grave violations of human rights cannot remain unpunished. Mexico presides the UN Human Rights Council and must show that human rights is not about rhetorics but about practice », recalled the President of the FIDH, Sidiki Kaba.

With regard to violence against women, FIDH recalls that in view of the systematic nature of murder and disappearance cases of women and girls in Mexico, FIDH, LIMEDDH and CMDPDH issued several reports to alert the Mexican authorities and the international community, particularly the UN Committee against Torture (3). In its recommendations, the Committee welcomes the efforts undertaken by Mexico to tackle the cases that occurred in Ciudad Juarez. Nonetheless, FIDH shares the views of the Committee that such efforts are insufficient as most of the murder and disappearance cases which involved more than 400 women in Ciudad Juarez since 1993, remain unpunished and numerous acts of violence, including murders, continue to be perpetrated in Ciudad Juarez. The Committee further highlighted that numerous irregularities, including disciplinary and criminal offences had been committed by state police agents investigating on those cases. Finally, the Committee urges Mexico to strictly implement all recommendations issued by the Committee of the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

FIDH reminds the Government of Mexico that it is responsible for the implementation of international obligations subscribed by it, throughout its whole territory, whatever its form of government. It urges the Government to implement the recommendations set out in its reports and in the UN’s concluding observations.

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