12/11/12 – José Miguel Vivanco, Director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), has sent a letter to President Enrique Peña Nieto inquiring about his commitment to defending and protecting human rights. The letter urges Peña Nieto to define a concrete plan for preventing a repeat of the human rights abuses that occurred during the Felipe Calderón’s administration.
In his missive, Vivanco referenced evidence of abuses committed under the previous presidential administration, including the systematic use of torture to obtain confessions and information from detainees, and the forced disappearances and executions perpetrated by the Mexican police and military. He described such acts not as isolated, rather, as examples of endemic “abusive practices” carried out under the mantle of the fight against organized crime. He also explicitly charged Peña Nieto with “the responsibility to ensure that [even abuses from his prior presidential term] are adequately investigated,” despite the change in government. Vivanco also reminded Peña about binding international treaties on this topic
Among the many concrete problems that must be addressed by the new administration, HRW drew attention to the approximately 25,000 disappearances cases that have not yet being solved; the development of protocols for justice and law enforcement officials for investigating disappearances and searching for missing people; the assembly of a registry of unidentified bodies; the prohibition on evidence obtained through torture, and; reforms to the Code of Military Justice to bring it into compliance with rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and Mexico’s Supreme Court (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, SCJN).
HRW urged Peña to develop a comprehensive plan of concrete, detailed public policy solutions to address these serious problems. One of the paragraphs expresses this request as follows:
“Mr. President, we welcome the pledge in your inauguration speech to ‘transform into reality the human rights enshrined in [Mexico’s] Constitution,’ and to come up with a ‘strategy’ for improving human rights ‘with real and efficient coordination between the branches of government, to combat impunity[,] and ensure that justice and peace prevail.’ In addition, we recognize your efforts to establish the broad outlines of such a strategy in the ‘Pact for Mexico,’ which you put forward and gathered support for, and which includes important commitments such as making respect for human rights into an official ‘state policy’ (política de Estado)[,] and strengthening the legal framework for preventing and prosecuting torture and forced disappearances.”
Vivanco further expressed in his letter his belief that Calderón’s lack of commitment to preventing and sanctioning human rights violations was one of the main reasons for the severe human rights crisis that Mexico now faces.