Human Rights Groups Call on the ICC to Proceed with the Preliminary Examination into the Situation in Mexico

FIDH, CMDPDH and the CCDH presented today a report on torture, severe deprivation of liberty and enforced disappearances committed by the armed forces and the state security forces in Baja California between 2006 and 2012 to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The information presented in the report clearly establishes that these acts constitute crimes against humanity and fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC. The information also substantiates the systematic and widespread nature of these crimes within the framework of a government policy implemented mainly by the police and military authorities. Civilians were targeted with the objective of presenting ‘progress and achievements’ in the fight against organized crime.

Security forces in Mexico committed crimes against humanity that cannot go unpunished,” stated Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. The ICC has jurisdiction to assess these crimes and, given the prevailing impunity of those responsible at the highest level, to proceed with an investigation he added.

The information presented reveals that the authorities, mainly military authorities, followed a specific pattern when committing these crimes. They arrested civilians in their homes without any legal warrant, subjected them to acts of torture in military facilities, forced them to sign blank sheets of paper that would be used for their self-incrimination or to incriminate others, and placed drugs and arms in their possession as “evidence”. Often they presented these civilians before the media as guilty parties. This was done with the knowledge, acquiescence and even the direct participation of the highest military and police officials in Baja California. In all of the cases documented by the organizations, victims were either acquitted for lack of evidence or are awaiting their sentence in proceedings riddled with contradictory, questionable evidence. Conversely, no high-ranking military or police officials have faced criminal charges before any Mexican court of law for crimes committed against civilians, including acts of torture.

The information presented to the Office of the Prosecutor includes cases that exemplify this pattern of conduct involving approximately 100 victims. This is second communication presented to the ICC Office of the Prosecutor by FIDH and the CMDPDH on crimes against humanity perpetrated in Mexico within the so-called ‘War on Drugs’. It supplements the first communication presented in October 2012.

The organizations believe that there is a reasonable basis indicating that crimes falling under ICC jurisdiction were committed in Mexico. There has yet to be an investigation or prosecution for any of these crimes as they remain unpunished. The organizations have therefore requested that, as laid down in Article 15 of the ICC Statute, a preliminary examination be conducted. This will determine whether or not an investigation on crimes against humanity, torture, severe deprivation of liberty and enforced disappearances in Mexico is warranted.

Given the lack of response on the part of the Mexican authorities to the victims’ clamour for justice, there is no other remedy than the ICC to ensure that the grave crimes committed in Mexico are not left unpunished, declared Paulina Vega, Vice President of FIDH and member of the CMDPDH Board.

The population of Baja California has collectively suffered the impact of these operations against innocent citizens. A genuine investigation to bring those responsible to justice at the highest level is needed to prevent these crimes to be committed again. Torture must no longer be business as usual for the State security forces. indicated Raúl Ramírez Baena, Director of North East’s Comisión Ciudadana de Derechos Humanos (CCDH).

The Rome Statute entered into force for Mexico on 1 January 2006. In December of that year, President Felipe Calderón announced his security strategy, known as the “war against drugs”. This entailed conferring the military forces with police functions without any restrictions on their use. This strategy produced high levels of violence on the part of the armed forces and, as a response, on the part of organized crime. Although the security discourse has changed since President Peña Nieto took office in December 2012, statistics prove that the violence has not ceased and that crimes committed in this context have not been investigated, nor have those responsible at the highest levels been sanctioned.

Since 2006, complaints of torture attributed to the armed and security forces have increased 500 per cent according to the President of the National Commission on Human Rights (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos). According to official figures and to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, thousands of cases of disappearances have been registered. More than 8,000 people have been arbitrarily detained and placed under pre-charge detention (Arraigo) according to the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic (Procuraduría General de la República). Finally more than 70,000 persons have been arbitrarily executed, according to figures from the United Nations Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions after his visit to Mexico in 2012.

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