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1998 | 54th Regular Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (16 March - 24 April 1998)

The growing militarization problem in Mexico

March 16 – April 24, 1998
Palais des Nations, Geneva

This year, FI/OP spoke more strongly on behalf of Mexican people than we have done at other sessions. We cosponsored the showing of two videos, one on paramilitaries and the other on the massacre in Acteal as well as the briefing on the human rights situations in the country. Despite the refusal of the government representative to take part in the panel discussion that was chaired by Mrs. Danielle Mitterrand, the presence of the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Nigel Rodley, who visited Mexico last Summer largely contributed to its success. Pablo Romo op of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center and a member of our delegation was also one of the panel speakers.

At meetings with various delegates of the Mexican government (Mr. Jorge Madrazo, Attorney General, Ambassador Carmen Moreno, Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and Dr. Mireille Rocatti, President of the National Human Rights Commission), we expressed our concerns about (1) the deteriorating living conditions of indigenous peoples in Chiapas, (2) the growing militarization in many parts of the country and (3) the government’s noncompliance with the San Andrés Accords. To Ambassador Antonio De Icaza of the Permanent Mission in Geneva, we expressed a particular concern about the safety for human rights defenders living in Mexico and for NGOs activists who come to monitor the human rights situation in the country.

We discussed Mexico with representatives (Germany and France) of the European Union which did include Mexico in its statement under the agenda item that was devoted to the discussion of human rights violations in every part of the world. Also we spoke with Mr. Ross Heynes, head of the Canadian delegation and Vice-Chairman of the 54th session of the Commission, about our positions on Mexico.

In our statements, FI/OP reported that in Mexico torture is used as part of the administration of justice and is frequently considered as a way of obtaining confessions. We supported the recommendations formulated after the visit paid to the country by the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Nigel Rodley, and we urged the government of Mexico to comply with them as soon as possible.

We stated that the massacre of 45 civilians on 22 December 1997 in Acteal, Chiapas is a signal to the international community of the deteriorating human rights situation affecting the indigenous population and we urged:

  • the Commission on Human Rights to seriously consider appointing a Special Rapporteur to examine all aspects of the human rights situation in Mexico
  • the Mexican government to conclude its investigations into the massacre in Acteal and bring to justice the perpetrators including federal authorities
  • the Mexican government to disarm paramilitary groups operating in Chiapas and to hold them accountable for their violent campaigns against indigenous peoples,
  • the Mexican government to fulfill the San Andres Agreements signed in February 1996 in view of restoring peace negotiations and guaranteeing the indigenous populations the full enjoyment of their rights.

Mexican government officials repeatedly insisted to us that the Chiapas conflict is being manipulated to slow the economic policy reforms and free trade policies of the government. Recognizing that the indigenous people have been victims of historic injustice, they underlined they want NGOs to be part of the solution for the conflict in Chiapas, not part of the problem. They reminded us that under no circumstance would Mexico accept the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to monitor the human rights situation in the country.

Summary links for the Commission 1998: Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Pakistan, Rwanda

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