Mexico City, 2 May 2013
1.1 Summary of visit
At the invitation of the Government of Mexico, I conducted an official visit to this country from 22 April to 2 May 2013. I visited Mexico City, and the states of Chihuahua, Guerrero and Nuevo León. The visit provided an opportunity to engage with the relevant authorities from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the federal and state levels as well as national and local human rights institutions and civil society organizations. I wish to thank the OHCHR–Mexico for providing assistance throughout the preparation and course of my visit. I consulted also with relevant members of the United Nations Country Team.
I express my gratitude to the Government of Mexico for extending an invitation to my mandate, as well as for the extensive cooperation provided during the preparation and conduct of this visit. I was impressed by the openness and willingness to engage that I encountered in all my meetings.
During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet with more than 120 officials of the federal and state Governments. At the federal level, I met with high-level authorities from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Navy, National Supreme Court of Justice, Federal Attorney General’s Office, Senate, Chamber of Deputies and National Commission on Human Rights. In Mexico City, I also held meetings with the Justice Attorney General of the Federal District, the Human Rights Commission of the Federal District and the Institute for Forensic Sciences.
In Chihuahua, I met with the Governor and the Minister of Interior, prosecutorial authorities of the state Chief Prosecutor, state forensic services, law enforcement officials, the state Human Rights Commission, and the delegation of the federal Attorney General’s Office and the Justice Center for Women in Ciudad Juarez. In Guerrero, I held meetings with the Minister of Interior, the Attorney General’s Office, the Chief Justice of the Superior Tribunal of Justice and other state authorities, the delegation of the federal Attorney General’s Office, the state Human Rights Commission, and the Truth Commission of the state of Guerrero. In Nuevo León, I met with the Governor and other state authorities, the office of the state Attorney General, the delegation of the federal Attorney General’s Office, and the state Commission for Human Rights. In each of these states and in the Federal District, I also met with international and local civil society and victims.
A detailed report on my findings and recommendations will be presented at the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2014. The observations and recommendations presented today are preliminary and open to further input, and will be developed further in the future report.
1.2 General impressions
The last visit by the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to Mexico took place in 1999. In her report, my predecessor highlighted a number of positive developments and challenges related to the right to life in Mexico, and warned against the militarization of internal security. Subsequent to her visit, the situation deteriorated significantly with regard to the right to life.
Interlocutors recounted how as from around 2007 the Government deployed the military to take on the increasingly organized drug cartels in what it called a “war on drugs.” In the course of this deployment widespread extrajudicial executions by the security forces, as well as cartels, also occurred, often without accountability. The country continues to experience alarming levels of violence.
Mexico faces significant challenges to protecting the right to life. There is a strong flow of drugs and vulnerable migrants through the country from the South to North, while guns flow in from the Northern border with the United States. Powerful and violent cartels, some of them reaching far beyond the borders of Mexico, have become entrenched and have infiltrated sectors of the Government. In addition a number of vulnerable groups are particularly targeted by or are so-called casualties of this and other sources of violence.
Some states in Mexico have experienced unprecedented violence during the last six or more years. Cities in states such as Chihuahua and Guerrero have at various stages been classified as some of the “most dangerous” in the world.
According to information provided by Mexican authorities, 102,696 intentional homicides were committed during the previous federal administration. According to the Government as many as 70,000 of these were drug-related killings. This is coupled with and indeed made possible by systematic and endemic impunity. Only around 1 to 2 % of crimes, including homicides, lead to a conviction.
The gravity of the situation should be confronted squarely, and most of the officials I met were open about this. At the same time it should be recognized that a number of positive reforms have been introduced and others are being developed and instituted now. There has also been an important shift in the message conveyed by the public authorities. The security and justice section of the Pact for Mexico (an agreement signed by the President and the main political parties in the country) highlights the objective of “recovering peace and liberty, by decreasing the levels of violence; specifically, efforts by the Mexican State will be focused on combating the three crimes that most harm people: homicide, kidnapping and extortion.” In his inaugural address in December 2012, President Peña Nieto declared: “This will be a government that serves the rights of every Mexican. The first and last right is the right to human life.”
While it is clear that one aspect of any possible solution will lie in a forward-looking approach – for example removing the social causes of violence and preventing killings from taking place – and that some structural reforms are needed, it is also of central importance to keep looking back and deal with crimes that have been committed. Building a robust and effective system that investigates and where appropriate delivers punishment regarding each and every killing that occurs will be the key to eventually breaking the cycle of violence.
2 The legal and policy framework for securing the right to life
2.1 The Constitutional and international level
Significant and positive constitutional reforms have occurred over the last five years. Reforms in 2008 initiated the process to transform the country’s semi-inquisitorial system into an oral, adversarial system of criminal justice. This entails the introduction of the presumption of innocence and the provision that any statement that is not made in the presence of a judge is invalid, as a way of countering forced confessions. Implementation, however, is slow.
The 2011 reforms provided that international human rights treaties once ratified have a status equal to the constitution, and brought changes to the amparo system.
Mexico is deeply engaged with the international and regional human rights system. It is a country open to international human rights scrutiny. This openness and commitment of the State to the international human rights agenda strengthens its capacity to protect the right to life in partnership with the international community.
2.2 Preventing unlawful loss of life
Under international law, violations of the right to life involve both the taking of individual life by state actors, such as those involved in law enforcement, and a failure by the state to exercise due diligence to prevent killings by non-state actors. It also entails the failure to adequately investigate, properly identify and hold perpetrators to account and to provide reparation to the victims. Impunity under such circumstances is in itself a violation of the right to life by the State. I will briefly outline some of the categories of killings of particular concern in Mexico and then will turn to the issue of impunity.
2.2.1 Moving away from the military paradigm in law enforcement
President Peña Nieto has stated that the armed forces will continue carrying out security tasks until the new strategy on security and justice is applied, which will allow for their gradual return to the barracks. This is to be welcomed.
In any country, soldiers involved in policing are notoriously unable to discard the military paradigm. Their training often leaves them unsuited for law enforcement. The primary objective of the military is to subdue the enemy through the use of superior force, while the human rights approach, in terms of which all law enforcement operations must be judged, focuses on prevention, arrest, investigation and trial, with force only as the last resort, and lethal force being permissible only to prevent the taking of life. Following a military approach to public security risks creating a situation where a civilian population is vulnerable to a wide range of abuses for which there is insufficient accountability in the military justice system. This reality should be addressed in Mexico.
Within the strategies to reduce violence, the Pact for Mexico is proposing the creation of a national gendarmerie. However, there are many questions about this new governmental security force. According to the information provided to me, the national gendarmerie will have 40,000 officers who are militarily trained but under civilian control. All efforts should be made from the start to ensure that, as a law enforcement body, the gendarmerie functions within a human rights framework, including through sufficient and specialized training on the use of force in law enforcement contexts, rather than a focus on military principles, and that they are held accountable under the civilian legal system.
2.2.2 Establishing a legal framework for the use of force
A strong impression during my visit was the absence on the federal and most state levels of a coherent and widely recognised legal framework for law enforcement officials on the use of force, including in arrest and demonstrations. I acknowledge the existence of various protocols on the issue, but a comprehensive law is required. Setting out the criteria and limits on the legitimate use of force is key to ensuring the guarantee of the right to life. I welcome the assurance I have been given that federal legislation on the use of force will be drafted and that the Government has signed an agreement with the International Committee of the Red Cross for that purpose. The Pact for Mexico also includes this commitment.
Such legislation should provide that force is to be used only when strictly necessary to protect life in immediate danger and for legitimate law enforcement purposes; and that the use of force shall always be proportional to lawful objectives. It is also important that the law includes accountability measures for the unlawful use of force.
The extent to which laws on the use of force are promulgated will be an important measure of the State’s commitment to establish a stronger national human rights framework. This should occur at all levels of government and be disseminated through training and other communication channels, to become part of the culture of all forces involved in law enforcement, and of the broader public as well.
2.2.3 Fighting organized crime within a human rights framework
Around 60% of the homicides recorded in recent years has been attributed to organized crime. It nevertheless remains the responsibility of the State to prevent these killings, and to diligently investigate and prosecute after their perpetration. I was alerted to the concern that security forces may believe that people involved in drug-related activities are disposable in the State’s efforts to address organized crime. There often seems to be a presumption that those killed were involved in crime and thus less worthy of protection.
2.2.4 The need to counter corruption and intimidation in the legal system
The complicity of some security and judicial officials with organized crime, especially at the state and municipal level, weakens the protection of the right to life. Complicity may result from corruption, but I was also informed that some officials may act upon instruction from organized crime because of threats, both real and perceived.
- Countering impunity
Situations in which life is taken unlawfully are rendered even more alarming by the absence of proper accountability.
2.3.1 Ensuring proper investigations
Civil society reported extensive omissions in investigations by federal and state authorities. In all too many cases where someone has been killed, no serious investigation is opened. In some cases a family member appears to have filed a report with police or other authorities regarding a case of homicide or disappearance resulting in death, and no charges ever result. Numerous individuals told me that relatives have to play the role of investigator into the death of their loved ones, gathering evidence where authorities refused to take investigative action themselves. I was told that investigative police are often quick to close a case when there was a suspicion without adequate investigation that it resulted from organized crime, as though no further identification of perpetration was necessary.
The inaccessibility of evidence to the parties involved may result in improper judicial process. I heard about a number of cases in which the investigative authorities had failed to adequately preserve, classify and transfer biological as well as material remains, so that they were insufficient both for victim-identification as well as court proceedings.
It was also brought to my attention that public officials may manipulate and in some cases even falsify the crime scene, especially when the unlawful use of force by a State actor is implicated. Multiple interlocutors told me guns and bullets had been planted on the crime scene after the killing, to implicate the victim or other actors.
Some protocols to investigate serious offences and search for missing vulnerable persons have been adopted. The different protocols to investigate femicide in certain jurisdictions, and the Alba and Amber Protocols, show the value of standardizing specific polices. However, there is concern that, for those protocols that do exist, safeguards are insufficient or they are not properly followed, for example through the keeping of proper logbooks. Training on and implementation of appropriate standards for investigation should be urgently addressed.
I visited the Institute for Forensic Sciencesin Mexico City as well as the forensic services in Chihuahua and was impressed by operations and services I witnessed. However, from institutional as well as civil society actors I heard that the coordination of forensic services across states is insufficient, that certain states’ services are far inferior and lack full capacity for complicated analyses, and that some cases may also not be reviewed by forensic experts at all. In many instances the forensic services do not retrieve bodies from crime scenes themselves. This can result in a situation where there is not adequate evidence to properly convict a perpetrator.
Both in investigations and prosecutions, the powers of modern technology can enhance the efforts of the State to ensure greater accountability – and hence reduce its reliance on the use of force. Mexico should use the superior access it has to intelligence networks and regional cooperation to counter organized crime which threatens the right to life.
This should have two interlinked components. On the national level, databases should be created inter alia in the areas of fingerprinting, DNA, genetics, and missing persons and should be made digital and linked. Moreover, Mexico should play an active role in linking up with other states especially in Central America to ensure that such information is also shared with the security services of those States.
Violence in Mexico has an important regional component, in the sense that it spills over into other surrounding countries, but also that it is fueled by events elsewhere. It is consequently important to seek collaboration in the region to address the issue, for example through the Central American Integration System.
2.3.2 Ensuring fair trials
The use of military courts to try military personnel for homicides involving civilians is an issue of serious concern. It has been condemned by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the National Supreme Court of Justice alike. However, I was given welcome assurance during my meetings at the Attorney General’s Office, the Navy and the Army that this practice is on its way out. According to the relevant authorities all such cases are now transferred to the civilian system, for investigation as well as trial. This de facto situation will also be entrenched in law. A new bill is currently being prepared for adoption in which homicide involving civilians, together with other human rights abuses, will explicitly be removed from the jurisdiction of the military courts. The Department of Defence assured me that this move enjoys their support.
If implemented, the envisaged changes will be a significant contribution towards a human rights framework. It will, however, be important to ensure that the civilian courts have the capacity to deal with the increased workload. As a next step, Mexico should consider establishing civilian jurisdiction over all cases of homicide by the military, even when the victim is not a civilian.
Lack of institutional independence
I am concerned that a number of the institutions involved in the administration of justice may lack full independence and thus contribute to impunity. I received indications that both state actors and members of organized crime who are tried may be given insufficient sentences because the prosecution or judges are not independent.
I met with a number of federal and state Attorney Generals who clearly take their work very seriously. However, some expressed to me the fear of intimidation, threat and attack against prosecutors or other judicial authorities.
Many of the state forensics services may not be sufficiently independent. Out of the 32 such institutions in the country, only four do not report to the state attorney general: Baja California, Guerrero, Puebla, and Mexico City. Under a structure in which the forensics experts report to the prosecutors, there is a clear possibility for abuse of power whereby the prosecutor may influence the outcome of investigations and the trial.
Intimidation of witnesses and family members
Another factor contributing to incomplete prosecution cases is the concern surrounding witness intimidation. Witnesses are in some cases threatened or they fear identification by the accused or complicity by the authorities with organized crime, and so do not come forward to testify. Witnesses and families of victims often see prosecutors as susceptible to corruption, connected to perpetrators or ineffective. I also observed that witnesses and families of victims are reluctant to trust the Government’s protection programmes because security for it is provided by Government police, and witnesses and families of victims assume that in some cases there is collaboration between police and perpetrators.
I heard alarming accounts of families facing reprisals or threats, from state authorities or organized crime, when they called for investigation or prosecution. In one case in Chihuahua, a mother was disappeared after she called repeatedly upon authorities to investigate the disappearance of her daughter. Another mother who was calling for investigation into her child’s death was warned to stop pressing authorities because she might end up like the first mother.
The Government should provide greater protection for families of victims, and should initiate legal cases itself pursuant to proper investigative and prosecutorial functions. Otherwise, such scenarios lead to a loss of faith in the legal system by the public – and in turn to greater criminality and impunity.
A welcome development is the adoption of the Law on Victims. However, the focus of the law on compensation as opposed to prosecution could undermine the move toward ultimate accountability.
Conviction of innocent individuals
One manifestation of impunity is that an innocent person is convicted. I was told that in some cases perpetrators are knowingly not brought to justice but instead an innocent, oftentimes vulnerable individual such as a migrant or poor person will be punished instead. Other times, a suspect may be convicted only based on self-incriminating confessions obtained through torture or by the testimony of supposed witnesses who were not present at the scene of the crime. Under both these scenarios, the use of such scapegoats makes a mockery of justice. While this may create an illusion of accountability, it in fact results in a double injustice.
2.3.3 The legacy of the “Dirty War”
The fact that no effective prosecutions followed the “Dirty War,” in which a large but unknown number of persons was executed, contributes to the problem of impunity. I met some of the survivors of the massacre of Tlatelolco of 1968 and colleagues of persons who were executed. I was informed about the seemingly abandoned process to deliver justice, reveal the truth and provide reparations to the victims of extrajudicial executions.
The Government democratically elected in 2000 appointed a Special Prosecutor’s Office, under the Attorney General, to investigate and bring charges regarding this period. One major obstacle faced by the Attorney General’s Office was the statute of limitations. Although Mexico has been a party since 2002 to the Convention on the Non‐Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, Mexico filed an interpretative declaration stipulating that the Convention would only apply to crimes that occurred after 2002. As a result of the statute of limitations, many of the crimes of this era are considered to have expired.
There is no program of reparations for the victims of extrajudicial executions during the Dirty War. After many years, no one has been convicted and no relative of a victim of extrajudicial execution has been provided with reparations.
In 2012, a Truth Commission was created in the state of Guerrero to investigate violations to human rights perpetrated in the state during the Dirty War. I was informed that the Truth Commission’s work is hampered by the fact that it does not have access to the information compiled by the federal Attorney General’s Office on cases related to this period.
2.4 Federal versus state competence, and national coordination
Surprisingly, and significantly, homicide is not a crime listed in the federal law against organized crime. This has meant that in cases of homicide federal authorities often do not investigate and prosecute these crimes even though, according to information I received, they are in many cases better equipped to do so. Only under extraordinary circumstances do federal authorities have competence to “reach down” and investigate and prosecute homicide: when the crime is linked to a federal offence (a scenario that rarely applies). I have been told of several instances where disputes have arisen whether federal courts have jurisdiction over cases of homicide. This lack of clarity about who has the power to investigate and prosecute homicides linked to organized crime is an additional obstacle to the provision of justice.
A further cause of impunity is a lack of coordination between procedures and systems, which has an added significance in a federal system. I heard of instances where cases have been sent back and forth between different parts of the judiciary; where there is uncertainty whether the federal or state level courts have jurisdiction; and where databases in different parts of the country are not in contact with each other. However, one positive example is provided by Nuevo Leon, where weekly meetings between different parts of the criminal justice system are said to ensure a high level of coherence in the system.
The continuation of annual meetings between the forensic services of the country – which currently relies on external funding – will be important.
- Vulnerable groups
The high level of killings of vulnerable persons was brought to my attention as particularly urgent. Given the pattern of these violations, and the pre-identified character of the victim, it is possible for the Government to undertake better protection measures. Concerns surrounding a number of these groups include the following:
Numerous interlocutors alerted me to the persistence of widespread and systematic violence against women, often resulting in death, and to the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators. Killings of women reportedly often involve sexual assault and other forms of brutality such as hanging, strangulation, suffocation and drowning. I was also informed that there is a direct link between the dramatic increase in numbers of femicides and the deployment of the army in law enforcement contexts.
I take note of the progress of the Mexico’s legislative and institutional framework to address violence against women at the federal level. The adoption of the 2007 General Law on Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence and the codification of femicide at the federal level and in 24 states are developments in the right direction. However, violence against women, specifically femicide, remains a serious concern in practice. According to the National Commission on Human Rights 4,419 femicides have been registered since 2007. It is noteworthy that although some positive steps have been taken to implement the Cotton Field ruling of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, further action remains to be taken.
According to the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH), 170 migrants have been killed in the country since 2005, including the mass killing of 72 migrants in August 2010 in San Fernando, Tamaulipas. Reportedly, there is a direct link between disappearances and killings of migrants, organized crime and complicity of law enforcement, investigative and other authorities. Migrants shelters have been subject to multiple attacks by organized crime and have received insufficient preventative and accountability measures. Migrants are afraid to bring cases to the police. Chronic impunity therefore persists.
3.3 Journalists and human rights defenders
Journalists and human rights defenders are key actors for a democratic society. I received information that threats against and deprivations of their lives continue at alarming rates. Since 2000, according to the CNDH, 83 journalists have been killed. Journalists who report on crime and public officials appear to be at greatest risk. Since 2005, the CNDH reports that 18 human rights defenders have been killed and many have faced death threats.
I took note with appreciation of the adoption of the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists; the creation of a Special Prosecutor's Office of Cases Against Freedom of Expression; and the constitutional and legal reforms that will entitle federal authorities to investigate, prosecute and judge crimes against journalists specifically. However, many journalists and human rights defenders informed me that these developments have yet to be sufficiently implemented. Because of the threat of targeting and reprisals, many continue to self-censor, leading to further impunity and lack of public information. Precautionary measures granted to human rights defenders and journalists are often subject to delay, are very limited and are not adapted to the particular risks they have and continue to face. The full participation of human rights defenders and journalists in the elaboration of their own risk assessment and formulation of precautionary measures should be ensured.
There is no systematic or disaggregated official data on the total number of children who have been unlawfully executed, but a number of civil society actors informed me of the high rates of child victims. Since 2007, more than half of children killed by homicides have been youth aged 15 to 17 years old. Several incidents of killings have been reported, including the 15 young people murdered at a party held at Fraccionamiento Villas de Salvárcar in Ciudad Juárez.
I have been informed that children are recruited by organized crime and thus become potential targets or so-called “collateral damage” of inter-cartel violence and the “war on drugs”, and that authorities are therefore less committed to investigation and accountability. In some cases, I was told that authorities publicly identified innocent youth as members of gangs or suspected perpetrators of organized criminal violence, and then released them without protective measures. They were subsequently found executed, presumably either out of vigilante justice or by members of rivaling cartels.
I note with concern the total lack of comprehensive and reliable information on deaths in prisons and other sites of detention, either as willful homicides or suspicious suicides. Since 2010, according to the CNDH 545 inmates have been killed. During my visit, 13 inmates died in a prison in the state of San Luis Potosi. I have been alerted that in larger prisons deaths result from prison riots, mass escapes and targeted assassinations of inmates, which result from cartel activities and self-rule within the prisons.
Authorities have failed to adequately address the problem of self-rule and appear to stand by, out of fear or complicity, while resort to deadly weapons and violence occurs. I was told that in many prisons the warden will not actually enter the prison ward. The lack of accountability should be addressed at various levels.
3.6 LGBT persons
I was alerted to an alarming pattern of grotesque homicides of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and broad impunity for their perpetration, sometimes with the suspected complicity of investigative authorities. Civil society actors informed me that between 2005 and March 2013 they had recorded 555 homicides targeting the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim. Sharp weapons are apparently used to kill in many of the cases, and the victims’ bodies often show deep cuts and further signs of torture including anal rape and genital mutilation.
I was further briefed on two cases in which an individual reported a death threat to Government authorities or the state human rights commission and then was killed without intervention or protective measures. I have been told that the CNDH has considered a number of crimes based on homophobia and that perpetrators have been identified as civilians as well as police officers. The implication of police involvement is reiterated at a systemic level by large-scale impunity. Killings of LGBT individuals are marked by a failure to investigate at all, or else a faulty investigation guided by stereotypes and prejudice. I was told that authorities are quick to close the case by calling these killings “crimes of passion”, which are not in fact criminalized under the law.
In this context, I welcome the assurances I received from the Government that it will be taking this issue further, including through the reactivation of a campaign against homophobia and through other legal and policy mechanisms.
There seems to be wide agreement among various levels of Government and civil society that the long term solution to the problem of violence in Mexico lies in establishing a strong law enforcement system compliant with international standards surrounding the right to life. The need to achieve this goal as soon as possible should be the guiding star of all policy and other reforms.
The country’s structure for protecting human rights in general and the right to life in particular should be strengthened to play the increasing role that is envisaged for it in the future, in order to reduce the need for a resort to the use of force. This will entail the allocation of the necessary resources. The full implementation of the current initiatives outlined in this statement must be a priority.
The international human rights framework has proven itself in societies around the world to be robust enough to deal with serious threats to public security, including organized crime, and allows for the use of force where required to meet threats. Mexico should continue to bring its national and state systems within this framework.
Mexico should consider the following recommendations:
Legal and policy framework
- Enact pending federal and state legislation to ensure the effective implementation of the constitutional reform on human rights. In so doing, reject the proposals recently submitted to the federal Congress that would weaken the reform’s progressive clauses.
- Accelerate the implementation of the new adversarial and oral criminal justice system.
- Make the Public Prosecutor’s Offices fully autonomous from the Executive branch.
- Make the public defender system independent of the Executive branch, improve its infrastructure and allocate sufficient human and financial resources in order to uphold the principle of equality of parties within the criminal justice system.
- The human rights commissions should make more use of their legislative powers to follow up on their recommendations where prosecutions for homicide are at stake.
- Create a national forensic services institution. This institution should have autonomous status and provide its services to all parties and authorities that take part in federal and/or state trials, to the human rights commissions, and to civilians. It should have adequate infrastructure, sufficient human and financial resources and standardized protocols that apply nationally.
- Engage in a systematic effort to eliminate the backlog of cases.
- Ensure that extrajudicial executions and massacres committed during the so-called Dirty War are duly investigated, prosecuted and tried, that the perpetrators are punished and that the victims and their relatives receive adequate reparation.
- The Truth Commission in Guerrero should receive all the support needed to ensure that it succeeds. The documentation assembled by the federal Attorney General’s Office regarding executions during the Dirty War should be made available, if not publicly then at least to the members of the Truth Commission.
- Withdraw the interpretative declaration to the Convention on the Non Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity that undermines the effectiveness to investigate, prosecute and try the extrajudicial executions and massacres committed during the so-called Dirty War.
- Take all necessary steps, within the short term, to ensure that public security is upheld by civilian rather than military security forces.
- Security forces should refrain from compromising crime scenes.
- Amend the Military Justice Code in order to ensure that all violations of human rights allegedly perpetrated by the military be fully investigated, prosecuted and tried by civilian authorities. Immediate transfer of all cases should be ensured. Military prosecution services should not initiate investigations into human rights violations.
- Ensure that the announced national gendarmerie is created by law, properly trained to conduct public security tasks according to international human rights standards and subject to effective civilian accountability measures, as well as being directed by civilian personnel without military backgrounds.
- Amend the Constitution in order to approve a general law on the use of force – including during demonstrations and arrest – that applies to all federal, state and municipal security forces according to the highest international human rights standards.
- Reform the federal law on organized crime to include homicide as one of the crimes that can be connected to organized crime.
- Transfer homicides allegedly linked to organized crime to federal jurisdiction by reforming the federal law in order to allow federal authorities to investigate, prosecute and try them where the state authorities are not in a position or are unwilling to do so.
- Mexico should work with countries in Central America to establish shared databases on fingerprints, DNA, genetics and missing persons.
Vulnerable persons in general
- Ensure the full, prompt, effective, impartial and diligent investigation of homicides perpetrated against women, migrants, journalists and human rights defenders, children, inmates and LGBT persons.
- Ensure that femicide is codified in all relevant criminal codes based on objective characteristics; standardize the police investigation protocols for femicide across the country; and fully implement the ruling of the Cotton Field case issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
- Create a safe corridor for migrants in transit, including better protection while in transit; strengthen cooperation between state departments and community organizations that provide humanitarian assistance to migrants; provide adequate redress to victims of violence committed in the country; follow an approach whereby undocumented migrants can exercise rights such as to report crimes to the authorities without fearing arrest; and ensure the dignified repatriation of the corpses in coordination with the State of origin.
Journalists and human rights defenders
- Adopt special investigation protocols for crimes committed against journalists and human rights defenders, requiring full examination of the possibility that the crime was committed because of the victim’s profession.
- Implement the recent reform that allows federal authorities to exercise jurisdiction over crimes committed against freedom of expression. Endow the Special Prosecutor’s Office with appropriate legal status, autonomy and sufficient resources.
- Ensure the full implementation of the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, providing the necessary financial and human resources for the effective and transparent implementation of the mechanism, guaranteeing close coordination between the bodies responsible for preventive and protective measures, and ensuring the full participation of journalists, human rights defenders, civil society and beneficiaries in the implementation and functioning of the mechanism. Raise awareness about the existence of the mechanism, especially at the local level.
- Take appropriate measures to protect the right to life of children, particularly during public security actions; establish regulations for the armed forces, police and justice personnel on how to ensure the rights of children during the investigations of homicides; collect data on the number of children killed; adopt effective public policies to prevent adolescents from committing homicide.
- Improve conditions for all detainees, in compliance with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and ensure the right to life of all inmates.
- Train police and other authorities on gender-identity and sexual-orientation awareness; ensure protective and precautionary measures; and encourage societal tolerance.
- Consider a visit to the country of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and follow up on the recommendations of the international and regional human rights bodies especially related to the right to life.
- The protection of the right to life, including the issue of accountability, should have a central place in the national human rights plan, currently under development.
- Public statements by Government officials on the legality of killings should not be made without proper consideration of the facts; likewise a stigmatization of victims of violence should never occur.
- 31. Ensure the prompt and effective implementation of the General Law on Victims and guarantee the full and representative participation of civil society and victims in the implementation and functioning of the law. Ensure that implementation occurs also on the local level.