Monday, April 5, 2010

Mexico Backslides on the Merida Initiative’s Human Rights Conditions

NACLA published my new article on the Merida Initiative entitled "Mexico Backslides on the Merida Initiative's Human Rights Conditions."  The article is in response to a recent legal reform that allows the Mexican Attorney General's Office (which has its own police force and is statistically one of the nation's worst human rights abusers) to pick and choose which information it turns over to the government's National Human Rights Commission.

The National Human Rights Comission (CNDH) investigates human rights abuses committed by government officials.  The legal reform means that if the CNDH has to investigate the Attorney General's Office for alleged human rights abuses (not an uncommon occurrence), the Attorney General's Office (PGR) can refuse to hand over information that is necessary to the investigation.

This development isn't shocking, and the CNDH itself pointed out that even when the PGR was legally required to hand over certain information for CNDH investigations, it often refused.  One particularly high profile example of the PGR refusing to cooperate with a CNDH investigation even though it was legally required to do so is the Brad Will murder case. Brad Will was a US journalist who was allegedly murdered by local police and government officials while working in Oaxaca in 2006.  The CNDH carried out an investigation into the murder prior to this new legal reform, and it reports that the PGR was very uncooperative and withheld evidence.

What does all of this have to do with the Merida Initiative?  Well, as I point out in the NACLA article, the PGR is one of the main recipients of Meridia Initiative funding.  Fifteen percent of that funding is supposedly conditioned on federal police forces (such as the PGR's police force, the Federal Ministerial Police) increasing their transparency and cooperation with civilian review panels.  This new legal reform does just the opposite.

However, Washington is silent.  The State Department ordered that much of the conditioned funds be released despite Mexico's refusal to comply with human rights conditions.  During Hillary Clinton's recent visit to Mexico, she promised more aid for the Mexican government's deadly drug war, which has done absolutely nothing to stem the flow of drugs into the United States.

There's more information in the article, which is available on NACLA's website.  Read it here.


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