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BRIEF

HRW: Neither Rights nor Security

HOMICIDES / 11 NOV 2011 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

In this 213-page report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) documents over 200 cases of "killings, torture and disappearances" committed by Mexican security forces. The abuses were committed by police, army and marines, all institutions which have received U.S. aid and/or training.

The report focuses on the five states most significantly affected by drug violence: Baja California, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Nuevo Leon and Tabasco. Some important trends highlighted by HRW include the shortcomings of Mexico's judicial system, with just 22 convictions for offenses tied to organized crime since 2007. This is a mere fraction of the nearly 1,000 investigations into crime-related homicides conducted by the Federal Prosecutor's Office.

The report also criticizes the incompetence of justice officials:

Judges who admit evidence that was likely to have been obtained through torture, prosecutors who obtain 'confessions' from defendants who are being held incommunicado on military bases, and medical experts who omit or play down signs of physical injuries when they examine detainees.

In addition, HRW casts doubt on the legitimacy of the government's own murder statistics. According to HRW, President Felipe Calderon has claimed that 90 percent of the "drug war's" 35,000 victims were involved in criminal activity. HRW questions these numbers due to the lack of convictions, as well as numerous cases in which security forces tampered with crime scenes, in order to make it look like homicide victims died in a shoot-out between rival gangs.

Get full version (pdf) here.

Lea versión en español (pdf) aquí.

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