HomeNewsAnalysisWOLA Condemns Mexican Military in Report

WOLA Condemns Mexican Military in Report


The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) published a new report yesterday about human rights violations by the military in Juarez and Chihuahua City, Mexico.

 The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) published a new report yesterday about human rights violations by the military in Juarez and Chihuahua City, Mexico. The report makes several recommendations: first, limit the Army’s role in law enforcement. According to WOLA’s findings, deploying the military to perform civilian police work – including search-and-arrests, questioning suspects and dismantling drug labs – only led to a rise of reported human rights abuses in Ciudad Juarez and the state of Chihuahua. The report includes eyewitness accounts of torture, forced disappearance and sexual abuse, and notes that few soldiers have been tried, let alone convicted, in military courts. Investigating cases of abuse in civilian, rather than military courts, would then be an essential step in holding more delinquent soldiers responsible for their crimes.

The report also examines the attempts at reforming Mexico’s police and judiciary. In 2009 the government tried to restructure federal enforcement forces, creating new standards for recruitment and training, while also granting police more authority in investigations. Last January, the government started withdrawing the military from Juarez and transferred more control over to about 5,000 Federal and 3,000 municipal police officers. But similarly to the military, the police are frequently not held responsible for human rights violations. And so far, none of the attempted police reforms have strengthened the institutions needed to enforce accountability.

Meanwhile, judicial reforms passed in 2008 tried to transform Mexico’s legal system, by requiring that cases are tried in open court rather than behind closed doors. These changes have been slow to implement and the statistics cited by WOLA are depressing: only 2 percent of crimes in Mexico result in a sentence. Rather than having the U.S. prioritize military aid, the report says, Congress “should prioritize strengthening Mexico’s civilian institutions such as through training in the adversarial criminal justice system.”

On September 3, the State Department tried to send a message to Mexico when it withheld $26 million in aid, due to failures in meeting human rights requirements. But such an action meant little when the same day, the U.S. released another $36 million in funds, previously withheld for the same reason. “All conditioned funds should be withheld until there is evidence that abuses committed by soldiers are being effectively addressed and those responsible sanctioned,” WOLA’s report concludes.  “It is to both countries’ benefit to work to curb the systematic human rights violations committed by Mexico’s security forces.”

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America's largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content


Between 35,000 and 45,000 boys, girls and teenagers are apprehended and exploited by criminal groups in Mexico, according to Saskia…


Mexico nationals living in the United States are helping fund the country's ever-growing self-defense militias, while recent gruesome murders indicate…

EL CHAPO / 28 FEB 2014

With Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman now back in a cage many analysts and ordinary Mexicans alike fret about the expected…

About InSight Crime


We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.


InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area


Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…


InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…


InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …


InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas


In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…