The Mexican army is responsible for a long list of disappearances and murders, along with the torture of 25 Tijuana police officers accused of corruption, according to a new report by London-based human rights group Amnesty International.
“The report, which meshes with earlier examinations by Human Rights Watch and Mexican human rights groups, accuses soldiers of torturing 25 police officers in Tijuana in March to coerce them to confess to links to organized crime,” The New York Times reported. “It says a man arrested by soldiers in October 2008 in Ciudad Juárez was found dead of a cerebral hemorrhage. It says two brothers from Ciudad Juárez were led away from soldiers the next month and never seen again.”
“In [another] case documented by Amnesty, 31-year-old Saul Becerra was picked up in an army raid at a car wash in Ciudad Juarez, near the U.S.-Mexico border,” Reuters added. “His body was found a year later and his death certificate showed he died the day after his detention of a severe brain hemorrhage from blunt-force trauma.”
Kerrie Howard, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Americas, added: “There is a disturbing pattern of crimes committed by the military in their security operations, abuse that is being denied and ignored by both the civilian and the military authorities in Mexico.”
The group cited nearly 2,000 complaints of abuse filed with Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission from the 18 months beginning Jan. 2008. That figure was up from just 367 in 2007 and a mere 182 in 2006, according to Amnesty.
They continued: “A human rights organization in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, told Amnesty International they had received 70 complaints involving arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment by the military between January 2008 and September 2009. But only 21 individuals lodged legal complaints. The rest feared that threats against them would transform into attacks.”
What few cases do progress through the judicial system are ultimately dealt with by “virtually closed military courts,” Amnesty claimed, where victims have little to no say in the proceedings.
“The cases that we’ve been able to investigate are truly shocking,” Howard added. “But what is more shocking is that we know that this is only the tip of the iceberg. We’re able to go into specific detail on a number of cases whilst the government continues to deny that there are cases of human rights abuses that need to be investigated.”
CNN added: “Nearly 14,000 drug-related killings have been reported in the nation from January 2008 to July 2009, the Mexican National Human Rights Commission said. Ciudad Juarez, on the U.S. border, has accounted for more than 3,000 deaths from January 2008 through September 2009, the Human Rights Commission said.”
Amnesty’s full report covers five specific cases of human rights violations, carried out against 35 individuals. The 27-page document can be read here. [PDF link]