Human Rights and Civil Society

Nearing the end of his term, Mexico City human rights ombudsman reports on his tenure

In his last address to representatives of the congress of Mexico City (DF) as president of the DF Human Rights Commission (CDHDF), Emilio ÁlvarezIcaza applauded the progress his organization has achieved during his tenure in transcending its previous role as simply an office with which to register complaints. He lauded the Commission’s success in engaging the three branches of local government to effect lasting changes in the interest of protecting victims of human rights abuses. He reported that during his tenure 80% of claims made to his office involved the administration of justice, the prison system, public security, cases of torture and forced disappearances, and that 9 of 10 claims were made by people with monthly incomes of less than 1000 pesos.

ÁlvarezIcaza also highlighted two high-profile cases: the News Divine nightclub incident in which 12 were killed during a police sting operation, and Casitas del Sur, a youth home from which 11 children have been reported missing. Referring to News Divine, ÁlvarezIcaza lamented the continued impunity, pointing out that the only person in detention 14 months after the incident is the nightclub manager, imprisoned for supplying alcohol to minors. Regarding the Casitas case, he maintained that there are many more children unaccounted for than have been reported. To date, criminal proceedings have been initiated against Casitas’ director and an English teacher for the center.

Since his address, ÁlvarezIcaza has opened a formal complaint against police officers in a case reminiscent of News Divine in which DF judicial police officers are being accused of failing to fulfill their duties during a botched July 3 rescue mission in which the kidnapping victim, Yolanda CeballosCoppel; one of her assailants; and two officers were killed. At issue is a video recording allegedly made by one of the officers involved in the operation. The DF Attorney General’s Office (PGJDF) has refused to hand over the video to the CDHDF, citing as its reason that it is not an official video, though it acknowledges that it was shot by one of its agents. ÁlvarezIcaza criticized that PGJDF agents are police and not free-lance journalists and insists that questions remain regarding the officers’ behavior during the operation that must be answered. A video was also shot by an officer during the News Divine operation that was turned over to the CDHDF and was key in raising public attention to possible abuses by DF judicial police and resulting investigations.


Torres Ruiz, Gladis. “Al conseguirprotecciónparavíctimas, la CDHDF dejó de ser sólo un lugarparalevantarquejas.” CIMAC Noticias. August 28, 2009.

Bolaños, Claudia. “CasoCoppel: integrante de PGJ tomó video, reconoceprocurador.” El Universal. September 7, 2009.

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