its 100th session, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter
"the Commission,” "the IACHR,” or “the Inter-American
Commission”) adopted the “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in
Mexico,” and published it on September 28, 1998. That document (hereinafter
“the Report” or “the Report of the IACHR on Mexico”) was based on
information received before, during, and after the IACHR’s on-site visit to
that country from July 15 to 24, 1996. The information came from Mexican
government sources, non-governmental organizations, other international
organizations, cooperation and technical assistance agencies, and independent
sources. In the Report the IACHR referred to the structure of the Mexican State
and then proceeded to assess the situation with respect to the following rights
protected by the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
American Convention”): right to life, to personal freedom, to humane
treatment, and to justice; political rights; the rights of indigenous peoples;
economic, social, and cultural rights; the human rights of women; and the right
to freedom of expression. The
Report culminates with the Commission’s conclusions and its respective
recommendations to the Mexican State.
follow-up report contains an evaluation of the measures adopted by the Mexican
State in compliance with the above mentioned recommendations.
The Commission understands that some of the recommendations put forward
call for measures whose implementation requires lengthier periods of time.
For that reason, the evaluation is specific in some cases and of a
general nature in others.
For the purpose of evaluating the steps taken to comply with the
recommendations, the IACHR has used the information that it has received on the
situation of human rights in Mexico from the sources mentioned above since
September 1998. In particular, on
October 29, 1999, the Commission requested the Mexican State to furnish it with
“all the supplementary and up-to-date information that it deemed relevant”
on its fulfillment of the recommendations contained in the Report; the period of
60 days fixed to that end expired with no response from the State.
In other opportunities the Commission has received information from State
institutions, such as the reply to the IACHR’s “Report on the Status of
Women in the Americas” and the agreement adopted by the Federal Electoral
Institute in December 1998 in compliance with the recommendations of the Report
of the IACHR on Mexico.
The Commission receives regularly the reports of the National Commission
on Human Rights (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, hereinafter “the CNDH”)
as well as the Commission on Human Rights for the Federal District (Comisión
de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal, hereinafter “the CDHDF”).
That information, like that obtained from other Mexican government
sources open to the public, has been used in the instant follow-up report.
NGOs periodically supply to the Commission information on various aspects
of the human rights situation in Mexico in documents conveyed to the IACHR and,
on occasion, at hearings held for that purpose.
Commission approved a preliminary version of the instant report and sent it to
the Mexican State on March 1, 2000, establishing a period of one month for it to
present its observations and commentaries, pursuant to Article 63(h) of the
IACHR’s Regulations. On March 31,
2000, the Mexican State forwarded to the Commission a document titled “The
situation of human rights in Mexico” which the State described as the
“evaluation of the political and institutional measures carried out by the
current administration with a view to strengthening human rights” in that
The IACHR has analyzed the document submitted by the State and, where
pertinent, reflected it in the instant report.
The Commission feels it opportune to emphasize first of all several
measures that signify the strengthening of human rights in Mexico.
First it is important to mention the acceptance of the contentious
jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in December 1998. The
IACHR praised this decision, considering it “a fundamental
step towards consolidating the protection of human rights” and “cause
for celebration by all member states of the inter-American system.”
Furthermore, on November 12, 1998, the State deposited its instrument of
ratification of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and
Eradication of Violence against Women ("Convention of Belem Do Para”).
Toward the end of 1998 the Mexican State adopted a National Plan for the
Promotion and Strengthening of Human Rights, some of the components of which
will be examined in this Report.
its report on Mexico, the IACHR dedicated
special attention to the important and valuable promotional efforts carried out
by various organs of the Mexican State. In
that regard, the Commission has received updated information according to which
such efforts have continued to increase, particularly projects in human rights
education for children and adolescents undertaken by the CNDH and the
Secretariat for Public Education.
The Commission hopes that its recommendations will be taken into
consideration for the implementation of those promotional programs.
event of great importance was the visit to Mexico by the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Mary Robinson. The presence of the UN High
Commissioner in the country in November 1999 kindled an animated debate between
civil society and the Government on such issues as impunity, compliance with
international commitments in the area of human rights on the part of the Mexican
State, and the role of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), among
Also in 1999 was the visit to Mexico by Ms. Asma Jahangir, UN
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
RIGHT TO LIFE
In the Report on Mexico, the IACHR recognized the efforts of the Mexican
State to purge its security forces, resulting in the expulsion of those
responsible for human rights violations. The
Commission indicated that, in spite of the above, it remained concerned at the
continued complaints of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings,
which have taken place in the context of the fight against armed groups, drug
trafficking and common crime.
In its Report, the Commission
recommended that the Mexican State undertake legal reforms; carry out serious,
prompt and impartial investigations and punishment of culprits, in particular of
members of paramilitary groups; arrange for compensation to the relatives of
victims; provide training to military and police personnel; and promote peace
negotiations in areas affected by armed violence.
December 9, 1999 the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Mexican
Chamber of Deputies of Mexico presented a Draft Decree Law on Prevention,
Punishment and Eradication of Forced Disappearance of Persons.
The above draft characterizes the crime of forced disappearance of
persons and punishes those who commit such an offence with 20 to 40 years’
imprisonment, disqualification from holding public office, and a fine.
Forced disappearance is imprescriptible in that draft, Article 10 of
which “makes the birth of children in captivity to a mother who is a victim of
forced disappearance comparable to the crime of forced disappearance.”
The IACHR considers that the presentation of the said draft constitutes
an important basis of compliance with the respective recommendation formulated
to the Mexican State. By the same
token, the Commission feels that the eventual enforcement of that law will
enable full compliance with the recommendations numbered 701, 702 and 703 in the
to the information received by the Commission, proliferation and impunity of
paramilitary groups persists in certain regions of the country.
In connection with the above the information mentions that the Amnesty
Law for the Disarmament of Civilian Groups in Chiapas, approved by the state
congress on February 24, 1999, “seeks to pardon the crimes of possession,
carrying, and stockpiling of weapons for the exclusive use of the army, and
other offences that derive from those crimes, for all those armed groups of
civilians, with the exception of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN),
who voluntarily lay down and hand over their weapons within a period of 120 days
counted from the entry into force of that law.”
respect to another issue addressed in the Report of the IACHR on Mexico,
training of government officials is provided for in the National Program on
Promotion and Strengthening of Human Rights, which the Mexican State unveiled in
December 1998. That document establishes that the work programs of several
state institutions (Ministries of the Interior, of National Defense, of the
Navy, and of Health, Office of the Public Prosecutor, Mexican Institute of
Social Security, Social Security and Services Institute for Government Workers)
must include training courses in the area of human rights, in particular for
dealing with priority groups, such as indigenous peoples, women, and migrant
workers. In addition, the
Commission has received information, according to which the CNDH is successfully
proceeding with its training courses for government officials.
The importance of the activities in promotion of human rights carried out
by the Mexican State was mentioned in the Report of the IACHR on Mexico,
for which reason it is proper to underscore their continuation and
increase on the part of that State. In this regard, the Mexican State informed:
During 1999, 281 human
rights training events were carried out for 13,609 civil servants of the three
levels of Government, particularly those in the Armed Forces, prosecutors,
penitentiary employees, as well as those in the National Institute for
Migrations (Instituto Nacional de Migración
– INM), and the areas of health and public security.
Other similar efforts are
being undertaken by the Secretariat of Defense (Secretaría de Defensa Nacional – SEDENA) and the National
Institute for Indigenous Peoples (Instituto
Nacional Indígena - INI).
The SEDENA, in coordination
with the CNDH and the human rights commissions in the states, is giving
conferences on human rights to civil servants in all the military regions and
zones, and it has incorporated this subject as a mandatory requisite for
promotions for supervisors and officers. For
its part, the INI promotes awareness in human rights through workshops and fora
aimed specifically at indigenous populations as well as migrant communities in
Rapporteur Asma Jahangir concluded in her report to the UN Commission on Human
Rights that “there has been a discernable decrease” in the number of
extrajudicial executions in Mexico in the last year.
The Commission finds this progress highly positive.
On the other hand, Ms. Jahangir calls on the Mexican State to adopt
measures for strengthening the judiciary, in order to fight impunity, especially
in cases where there is alleged involvement of military personnel.
Commission stressed in its recommendations that relatives of victims of
violations of the right to life attributable to agents of the Mexican State must
receive remedies and compensation from the latter.
The National Program on Promotion and Strengthening of Human Rights
provides for the “review of all cases of disappeared persons whose files
remain open before the United Nations Working Group or that are taken up with
the CNDH, with the aim of addressing the specific situation of relatives” and
that “the creation of a trust for providing support to families by means of
pensions or compensation will be examined.”
In that regard, within the framework of a friendly settlement procedure,
the Mexican State recently signed an agreement with the petitioners in Case
11.875 to provide compensation to the relatives of Mr. Valentín Carrillo Saldaña,
a victim of an extrajudicial execution committed by members of the Mexican Army.
The agreement refers to the
sentence issued by the Military Courts on March 16, 1999, by virtue of which the
officer responsible for the execution of Mr. Carrillo Saldaña is convicted to
30 years in prison, expulsion from the military and interdiction from public
service. The Commission highly
appreciates this first friendly settlement agreement with Mexico and it urges
the State and the respective petitioners to continue as a trend for the future
the practice of resolving cases by means of the friendly settlement procedure
provided for in the American Convention, with due respect for human rights.
17. As to
the right to life, the IACHR recommended to the Mexican State that it “promote
and develop peace initiatives…especially in the states of Chiapas and
Guerrero, with a view to bringing about the reforms that are necessary to ensure
full compliance with human rights.” The
IACHR has received no information regarding any measures that may have been
adopted to that end in Guerrero since the report was published.
However, the Commission took note of the peace proposal for Chiapas
announced on September 8, 1999 by an open letter from the Secretariat of the
Interior. [Secretaría de Gobernación]
That initiative includes proposals for carrying out a more widespread
debate in the Senate on the rights and culture of indigenous people, the release
of some prisoners accused of belonging to the EZLN, the review of reports on
harassment of indigenous communities in Chiapas, as well as the establishment of
a new instance of mediation.
The Commission reiterates what it stated in its Report on Mexico
regarding the fundamental importance of a non-violent solution to the conflict
in Chiapas. Since that date, there has been no information about specific
advances, or in the sense that the parties had returned to the negotiating
table. In any case, the highest
priority must be assigned to measures with a view to reinitiating the peace
negotiations, the development of which shall be closely observed by the IACHR.
18. In its
Report on Mexico the Commission referred to reports of arbitrary arrests and
poor prison conditions in that country. The
IACHR mentioned that illegal detention “often marks the beginning of a chain
of violations of other rights, which generally includes the right to personal
integrity and legal guarantees.”
In light of that situation
the Commission formulated recommendations to the Mexican State that included
adoption of measures designed to enhance the effectiveness of efforts to combat
crime; application of sentences that are alternatives to imprisonment;
improvement of conditions of prison establishments; review of disciplinary
measures; discontinuation of the so-called "personality profiles"; and
investigation of complaints of corruption inside prisons.
was provided to the Commission on progress as regards application of sentences
that are alternatives to imprisonment in the recent amendments to the Criminal
Code for the Federal District and the Law on Execution of Sentences for the
In practice this has still
not been enough to relieve overcrowding in prisons and detention centers, as
emerges from the serious situation that occurred at Tabasco Penitentiary, which
was prey to flooding at the end of 1999.
According to information supplied to the IACHR, the above mentioned Law on
Execution of Sentences for the Federal District constitutes “the first law
that establishes a procedure for imposition of penalties, which incorporates a
right to defense and a form of impugnment.”
Nevertheless, that information also indicated that these mechanisms
fulfill their function by the degree to which mechanisms of supervision are
imposed; for that reason, the Commission considers it very important for prisons
to permit the greatest possible access to relatives of inmates, their attorneys,
and non-governmental organizations for defense of human rights.
Commission has received preoccupying information according to which persons
detained in mental institutions do not have access to a judicial or independent
review of their cases, as a result of which many of them remain arbitrarily or
unnecessarily deprived of their freedom for years.
The Commission is aware of
the attention that senior government officials have recently given to the above
situation, which must be resolved with
the priority it merits, since it affects not only the right protected in Article
7 of the American Convention, but also the rights to humane treatment (Article
5) and justice (Articles 8 and 25).
21. In its
Report on Mexico, the Commission expressed concern about the practice of torture
by Government agents --in
particular by agents of the Office of the Public Prosecutor and by military
personnel and security agents in zones of conflict-- as well as the impunity in
such matters. Furthermore, the IACHR mentioned its preoccupation with the
wrong application of the principle of procedural immediacy that results from
according evidentiary value to confessions obtained under torture.
The recommendations made to the Mexican State in connection with the
right to humane treatment included that of providing support to the CNDH and the
human rights commissions of the respective states to enable them to investigate
reports of torture; adoption of measures to ensure that torture is appropriately
characterized and punished, and to provide detainees with full guarantees in
accordance with the law and the rules of due process; to provide for the
compensation and rehabilitation of victims of torture; and all the measures
relating to prevention, investigation and punishment of violations of this
Commission is aware of the amendment of Article 102 of the Constitution of
Mexico, by virtue of which the current Chair of the CNDH was appointed in
November 1999 by the Senate, in place of the previous system, according to which
he was directly appointed by President of the Republic. This unquestionably
constitutes substantial progress toward the independence of the Mexican
As mentioned, the CNDH plays an important role in Mexico in spite of the
limitations imposed on it by the fact that its recommendations are not binding
and may even be rejected by the official who receives them.
The Inter-American Commission will continue to evaluate, in general, the
process of strengthening the CNDH, and, in particular, with respect to the
recommendations on violations of the right to humane treatment.
National Program on Human Rights provides for the strengthening of mechanisms
for procurement of justice in cases involving violations of human rights. To
that end, it is proposed that the Office of Public Prosecutor put to the
National Conference on Procurement of Justice the desirability of staging a
“Campaign against Impunity and Torture.”
The above Program also provides for the organization of two training
courses for all government entities aimed at the eradication of those problems,
which are serious blight on Mexican society.
The Commission considers that drawing up such a program constitutes a
basis of compliance with the respective recommendations contained in its Report
Mexican State highlights that it has invested great resources to combat torture,
and it considers that “notable advances have been registered, in a relatively
brief period”. The State explains
this in the following terms:
In the period from December
1990 to June 1991 torture was the main subject of the complaints received by the
CNDH, totaling 225; from May 1992 until May 1993, 113 torture complaints were
received, placing this subject in the seventh place among the total complaints
received; and from January to December 1998, the number descended considerably,
where only 211 torture complaints were filed, thereby placing it in the
thirty-second place by subject of complaints received in the Commission, that
Finally, during 1999, the
CNDH received 7 complaints regarding torture, from a total of 6,221 complaints
for human rights violations filed before that Commission.
Commission has also received information indicating that “there are still
irregularities when it comes to classifying acts of torture; frequently
attention is paid to injuries or other violations, but no notice is taken of
Another reason for the IACHR’s preoccupation has been the
practice of applying the principle of procedural immediacy to accord validity to
evidence obtained under torture.
The Inter-American Commission hopes that firm measures are adopted in the near
future for eliminating these practices which constitute a serious violative
situation of the rights to humane treatment, due process, and judicial
protection guaranteed by the American Convention.
RIGHT TO JUSTICE
26. In its
Report, the Commission considered that combating impunity is crucial to progress
in the protection of human rights in Mexico,
to which end it made a series of recommendations to the State for
improving the administration of justice. In
particular, the IACHR recommended implementation of Article 21 of the Mexican
Constitution; to increase the effectiveness of employees and the independence of
the Office of the Public Prosecutor; to strengthen the impartiality,
independence and autonomy of the Judiciary; and to adapt the role of the Armed
Forces to tasks intended for them in accordance with the Mexican Constitution
and international law.
the progress achieved, the IACHR is aware of the restructuring of investigation
agencies of the Office of the Public Prosecutor of the Federal District.
The aim of the above initiative, which includes installation of computer
systems for identification of criminals, is to comply “fully with the
constitutional obligation to serve the population in a lawful, upright,
professional, impartial, loyal, and effective manner.”
During the period covered by this report, the Federal District Prosecutor also
established a Special Human Rights Unit. [Subprocuraduría
Jurídica y de Derechos Humanos] The
Commission also received information regarding a “Program of moralization,
regulation, and increased efficiency of services” targeted at all officials of
the Office of the Public Prosecutor of the Federal District.
federal authorities of Mexico have given their attention to combating impunity.
In a recent appearance before the Mexican Senate, the Public Prosecutor
recognized that the institution that he heads is afflicted by a situation of
“public skepticism” due, inter alia,
to the failure to execute 41,000 arrest warrants. On that occasion the Public Prosecutor committed to
redressing that situation. The
Mexican State informed the Commission that the PGR “has undertaken a radical
depuration of its personnel”.
Commission is aware that in February and March 1999 the federal government of
Mexico approved amendments to the Constitution that introduced Changes in
Mexico's legal procedure for challenging authorities' actions, known as “amparo”.
According to the information received by the Commission, those changes “would
expand the circumstances in which prosecutions could move forward despite the
violation of due process guarantees.”
The Mexican State also
submitted the following information pertaining to strengthening of the
On June 11, 1999 several
reforms were adopted and published in the Official Federal Registry [Diario
Oficial de la Federación] with respect to Articles 94, 97, 100 and 107 of the
Constitution, by virtue of which the functions of the Federal Judiciary Council
[Consejo de la Judicatura Federal]
were coordinated with those of the Supreme Court, giving the latter the faculty
to return to the Collegiate Circuit Tribunals [Tribunales Colegiados de Circuito] those matters where the Supreme
Court is not competent. The Federal
Judiciary Council was granted independence in technical and administrative
matters, as well as to issue its resolutions; the method for selecting its
members was also improved.
As a consequence of these
reforms, several secondary laws pertaining to the Judiciary had to be amended.
In December 1999, the Executive sent to the Federal Congress an
initiative to reform several articles of the Law of the Federal Judiciary and to
the Law of Amparo.
is most important to emphasize the amendment by which the victim of a crime and
the accused would be incorporated as third parties offended [terceros perjudicados]; also, there has been an increase in the
situations in which the victim, the offended and the other persons determined by
law could impugn by way of a writ of amparo,
the decision of the Office of the Public Prosecutor to not initiate a criminal
action; the dismissal of a case by a decision to withdraw the claim; and
resolutions pertaining to the reparation of the damage and civil responsibility,
when they are included in the criminal proceedings.
Equally, in 1999 several provisions were reformed in the Code of Criminal
Procedure for the Federal District and in the Organic Law of the Superior Court
of Justice of the Federal District. The
Commission noted the comments made public in the mass media,
and will in due course evaluate the effect of those reforms once they are
applied to concrete cases.
31. In spite
of the progress seen, the information available to the Commission indicates that
impunity persists in the administration of justice,
and that the abusive practices of security agents in Mexico have not been
stamped out. Combating
ordinary and organized crime is not, by any means, incompatible with respect for
individual rights and the rules of due process.
The Commission has on several occasions pronounced its opinion regarding
the obligations of the states parties to the American Convention in the context
of the rising violence and crime in the hemisphere.
In respect of the persisting problems in this area in Mexico, the UN Human
Rights Committee has said:
The Committee has noted the combined effect of the implementation of the
1995 Act Establishing Coordination between National Public Security Systems and
the 1996 Act Against Organized Crime, as well as the extension of the concept of
“flagrancy” to add to the number of circumstances in which an arrest can be
made without a warrant from the competent official of the judiciary. This
implies a serious threat to the security of persons. The Committee has also
taken note of the fact that in cases of arrest in "flagrante delicto"
and in cases of emergency an arrested person is handed over to the Office of the
Public Prosecutor, which may hold that person in detention for 48 hours (and, in
special circumstances, up to 96 hours) before bringing him or her before a
court. The Committee deplores the fact that arrested persons do not have access
to legal counsel before the time when they have to make a formal statement to
the Office of the Public Prosecutor and that the situation regarding access by
members of an arrested person's family was not clarified during consideration of
the report of Mexico.
procedure established and applied in Mexico constitutes an obstacle to full
compliance with Article 14 of the Covenant, which requires a trial to take place
before a judge, in the presence of the accused person and at a public hearing.
IACHR is conscious that the reforms of the so-called “system for procuring and
imparting justice” in Mexico, like the evaluation of their results, is a
process that takes some time. Nevertheless,
the Commission considers that the problems that beset the justice system must be
dealt with as a matter of priority, since this is undeniably an issue crucial to
advancing toward the effective observance of the human rights of the inhabitants
33. In its
Report on Mexico, the IACHR underscored the advances made by the Mexican State
and people toward “a political system based on elections that guarantee
competitiveness, pluralism, transparency, and independence in voter registration
and supervision of the elections. Furthermore,
the Commission described the fact that the Federal Electoral Institute is fully
autonomous, and that the Federal Electoral Tribunal is part of the Judicial
Branch of the Federation, as “substantial steps forward in reforming the
The recommendations made to
the Mexican State deal with the adoption of measures regulating the right to
vote, the autonomy of local governments, definition and punishment of electoral
crimes, and adoption of legislation on auditing the finances of political
State referred to the development of political rights in Mexico in the following
The establishment and
consolidation of independent, autonomous and impartial institutions, such as the
Federal Electoral Institute and the Federal Electoral Tribunal, have played a
preponderant role in the political transformation of the country.
The current composition and
distribution of the authorities at the different areas and levels of government
reflect clearly the new political and social context prevailing in Mexico, as
well as the effectiveness of its electoral institutions.
In fact, at the beginning o the 21st Century, 53% of the
population, that is, some 55 million Mexicans, are governed by authorities from
opposition parties. Likewise, while
in 1990 none of the governments of the states was headed by other parties but
the official one [PRI], today 11 of the 32 states
are governed by representatives of opposition parties.
The same is true, to an even greater degree, in the state legislatures
and in the city governments throughout the country, which amount to one
Commission has been observing with satisfaction the vigorous development of the
electoral process in Mexico during the period covered by this follow-up report.
Elections have been held during 1999 to define the candidacies of the
main political parties with a view to the presidential elections that will take
place in mid-2000. The governing Partido
Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) had a dynamic and unprecedented internal
debate, and the main opposition parties (Partido
de la Revolución Democrática and Partido
Acción Nacional) considered possible alliances.
Without regard to the final results, the Commission finds very positive
the wide participation of the citizenry as well as the great interest in the
electoral process, which is reflected in the media.
IACHR must highlight the response to the Report on Mexico of the Federal
Electoral Institute (IFE) of that country.
On December 28, 1998 the General Council of the IFE adopted a decision
“whereby it heeds, in accordance with its competence and insofar as the
possibilities accorded it by law allow it, the recommendations and observations
of the inter-American Commission on Human Rights.” The second point of that
decision stated that:
The Inter-American Commission values the institutional position adopted
by the IFE in favor of compliance with the international obligations of the
Mexican State, and will await updated information on the execution of the above
THE SITUATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND THEIR RIGHTS
The recommendations that the IACHR made to the Mexican State in
connection with this issue refer to adoption of such measures as may be
necessary to adequately meet the needs of the indigenous population and to
protect their members. With respect to areas of armed conflict, the Commission
recommended the resumption of dialogue; protection of and adequate provision for
internally displaced indigenous populations; disarmament and punishment of
members of paramilitary groups; and promotion of the political and social
reforms necessary for eliminating the causes of violence.
The Commission has had access to official information from the
Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL), according to which “the
anti-poverty policy has placed particular emphasis on the municipality as the
main body for attending to the social needs of the most socially backward
groups, through decentralization of powers, responsibilities, and resources.”
The core objectives of the Municipal Social Infrastructure Fund, which
was set up for that purpose, are to improve living conditions for the poorest,
in particular those who live in rural and indigenous areas; to build up the
institutional and financial capacity of the municipalities; to ensure that
government action reaches social groups and communities; and to give impulse to
citizen organization and participation in planning, programming, implementation
and follow-up of work, as well monitoring use of resources. The State also
provided information regarding several official programs aimed at improving the
lives of indigenous peoples in Mexico.
sources indicate that government measures, such as the Education, Health, and
Food Program (PROGRESA), have not changed the situation of indigenous peoples,
who are among the most vulnerable sectors of Mexican society.
As with other areas covered in its Report, the IACHR considers that
a certain amount of time is needed to assess the effectiveness of the measures
that the Mexican State adopts to improve living conditions for indigenous
peoples. Accordingly, aware of the
fact that the causes of violence must be combated in a decisive and effective
manner, without straying from the rule of law, the IACHR will continue to
observe closely the development of the above situation in accordance with its
41. On the
other hand, the IACHR has received information on the militarization of
an issue that caused it to express concern in its Report on Mexico.
Likewise, as was mentioned in this report, no progress has been made in the
peace negotiations in the areas of armed conflict, where the violence mainly
harms indigenous peoples.
Also mentioned supra was the concern that the proposed law is apparently aimed at
granting impunity to members of paramilitary groups in Chiapas.
42. In this
context, the Commission has been closely following the investigation into the
Acteal massacre (Chenalhó, Chiapas) that took place in December 1997,
and it has received information periodically on that matter from the Mexican
State as well as several organizations of civil society.
The most recent report of the Mexican State, which was received on
February 1st 2000, sets forth a series of actions carried out by the
PGR Office of the Special Prosecutor for Chenalhó regarding the “juridical
situation of the material authors, instigators, and assistants”.
The Commission deems very important the attention given by the Mexican
authorities to this situation and particularly values the initiative to continue
to submit information even after the expiration of the period set for the
respective precautionary measures requested the day after the events;
notwithstanding, it is clear that the matter has not yet been clarified
It must also be highlighted
that fifteen children, who are under special protection in the American
Convention, are included among the forty-five fatal victims of these deplorable
events. The Acteal massacre, universally repudiated, is doubtless the most grave
example of the depth in which the people of the state of Chiapas have been sunk
due to the lack of a peaceful and final solution to armed violence.
ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
The recommendations of the IACHR in this area refer to improvement of
health conditions, education, and social infrastructure and services that have
an impact on the living standards of the Mexican population, especially in rural
According to official information from SEDESOL, the Mexican State has
increased the budget for the Social Infrastructure Contributions Fund (FAIS) for
fiscal year 1999:
For 1999 through the FAIS for Branch 33, the states and municipalities
have increasing federal programmable spending funds at their disposal for
financing actions and programs in the area of basic infrastructure, which will
mainly benefit people living in conditions of poverty.
This year the budgetary resources allocated to the FAIS amount to 13,934
million pesos, a figure 14.8 percent higher in real terms than the budget
allocated in 1998. In the same way as the previous year, 88 percent of the
resources were allocated to the Fund for Municipal Social Infrastructure and 12
percent for State Social Infrastructure. The
10 states with the highest level of poverty (Chiapas, Guanajuato, Guerrero,
Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz) receive 67
percent of the FAIS resources, whereas in 1998 they received only 61 percent.
44. In the
document forwarded to the IACHR, the State alluded to “the greater enjoyment
of economic, social and cultural rights…within a framework of solid growth of
the Mexican economy”. In this
regard, it reported that in the 1996-2000 period it is estimated that “the
growth of the GNP will close at 5%, the highest rate for a similar period in the
last 20 years”; and that “the investment in social areas for the year 2000,
as a proportion of the estimated budget, is the highest in history, reaching
60.7%, or 9.4% if considered as a proportion of the gross national product”.
Also, official data indicate a steady increase in employment and that
“unemployment is at its lowest rate since it was first calculated in 1987,
reaching 2.7% during the first nine months of 1999”. The State also highlighted an increase in work training, with
84% more resources, in real terms, compared to 1994;
it mentions that when the 1995-2000 period is over, 6.4 million workers will
have received training, which is more than seven times the amount for 1989 and
1994. The official information also
points out several activities pertaining to housing, health and education.
In that regard, mention must be made of the grants for housing, the
decentralization of the health system for marginalized sectors of the
population, as well as the extended coverage of educational services.
Commission values the above mentioned governmental initiatives, which must be
seen in conjunction with other measures of an economic, social and cultural
nature. Also worth highlighting is
the improvement in macroeconomic terms, the effect of which was described by the
UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as having “created an
environment conducive to a more effective implementation of the rights enshrined
in the Covenant.”
In spite of the foregoing, the same UN body found that the recent
progress had not been enough and that there had been an increase in the number
of persons living in poverty and extreme poverty.
One of the expressions of this serious problem is street children, common
to many countries in the hemisphere, as well as to Mexico. In
any event, the trend indicates an important basis of compliance with the
Commission’s recommendations to that effect in its Report on Mexico, for which
reason the IACHR urges the State to increase the assistance it provides to the
neediest sectors of the population.
46. In order
to progress in the area of women’s rights, the IACHR recommended to the State
to supervise compliance with national and international norms on employment; to
adopt measures to combat violence against women, in particular to ratify the
"Convention of Belem do Para"; to investigate and punish officials who
abuse women detainees, and who insert intra-uterine devices in health
establishments without the consent of the woman; and, in general, to create the
conditions for equal development of women in Mexico.
It is worth highlighting first of all that on November 12, 1998, the
Mexican State deposited its instrument of ratification of the Inter-American
Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against
Women “Convention of Belem do Para”. The
Commission hails this initiative by the Mexican State, which constitutes
compliance with the recommendation made to that effect in its Report on Mexico,
and in the Report of the IACHR on the Status of Women in the Americas
published in 1998.
The Commission will remain
attentive to the development of domestic provisions for the effective
enforcement of that international instrument in Mexico.
The State also informed the Commission that it had signed the Optional
Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women, and that it “agreed to withdraw reservations or declarations
that it had previously presented to the Convention on the Nationality of Married
Women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Women and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
On February 1, 2000, in response to a request by the IACHR, the Mexican
State sent the Commission information related to the Report on the Status of
Women in the Americas. In that communication, the State informed that it had
minutely examined its federal law in order to “verify its consonance” with
international instruments and “to propose the necessary amendments to enable
the legal equality of men and women to translate into real equality of
opportunities for the development of both.”
The findings of that study were distributed among all the country’s executive
and legislative branches, human rights committees, and government entities.
The Mexican State names as concrete results proposed laws in connection
with women’s rights in Oaxaca, Nuevo León and the Federal District, as well
as the installation of Committees on Equity and Gender in 15 states of the
information received from government sources also draws attention to the holding
of six regional training workshops on intra-familial violence organized by the
National Committee on Women
and of “Training Workshops on the Enforcement in Mexico of the Convention of
Belem do Para” for criminal and civil court judges. The Commission must underscore that, as is the case in other
countries of the Hemisphere, the problem of interfamilial violence also has a
large number of children as victims.
Other activities include a Telephone Helpline Program for Women in San
Luis Potosí and staging “Legal Information Broadcasting Events on the human,
collective, and citizen rights of indigenous women”, organized by the National
Institute for Indigenous People.
51. In spite
of the above, the IACHR has received information on grave cases of violence
against women in Mexico. The UN
Human Rights Committee expressed its concern at “the level of violence against
women, including the many reported cases of abduction and murder that have not
resulted in the arrest or prosecution of the culprits and the large number of
allegations of rape or torture perpetrated by the security forces against women
detainees, which the latter dare not report.
The Commission finds that the official information received is very
encouraging--particularly on the broadening of international commitments to
strengthen effective observance of women’s rights--but it has to stress that
such progress must be accompanied by effective measures to prevent and
investigate all attacks that target women.
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
In its report, the IACHR recommended to the Mexican State to adopt legal
measures to give effect to the right to freedom of expression; to ensure the
exercise of this right; and to investigate and punish harassment of and attacks
on human rights defenders and members of community organizations.
Since the approval of its Report on Mexico the Commission has received no
information on progress in adoption of rules governing constitutional
provisions. The Mexican Network of
Protection for Journalists and Communications Media reported the following:
is one of the seven most backward countries in the world as far as freedom of
information is concerned. Our Print
Law dates from 1917 and if strictly adhered to would reveal its restrictive and
authoritarian essence. The Federal
Radio and Television Law was issued in 1960 and, apart from slight amendments to
its regulations, remains unaltered, despite the plain technological advancement
of electronic media in recent times. In addition, political and social development itself and the
gradual widening of democratic flows make patently obvious the need to
incorporate in the legal framework new provisions designed to guarantee and
ensure respect for freedom of expression and of information.
It is necessary to mention the diligent way that the Mexican State has
addressed, in the framework of the provisional measures provided for in Article
29 of the Regulations of the IACHR, a petition concerning threats against the
life and personal integrity of the journalist Jesús Barraza Zavala.
On the other hand, no progress whatever has been noted in the
investigation of the murders of the journalists Héctor Félix Miranda and Víctor
Manuel Oropeza, who were mentioned in the Report of the IACHR on Mexico and whose cases were decided in 1999.
The UN Human Rights Committee voiced its concern for the restrictions on
the free movement of foreign nationals in Mexico, especially members of NGOs who
investigate human rights violations in the country, consisting of revocation of
residence permits and denial of visa applications. Equally,
the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights published a study in which it concludes
that the legal and political restrictions imposed by the Mexican State on human
rights NGOs “weakens and on occasion violates the right to freedom of
Among the positive developments in this matter, there have been reforms
to the rules in Mexico pertaining to due process guarantees in the proceedings
for the expulsion of foreigners, which was analyzed by the Commission in an
individual case on that country.
it is important to mention the grave threats and attacks inflicted in 1999 on
Digna Ochoa y Plácido and several other human rights defenders who work at the
Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (PRODH) in Mexico. At the request of the IACHR, in November 1999 the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered provisional measures on behalf of
those persons, because it considered that they were in grave danger and with the
purpose of avoiding irreparable harm to them.
The Commission underscores the promptness with which the Mexican State
complied with the above order from the Inter-American Court, although the death
threats continued, for which reason, at the date of adoption of the instant
report the provisional measures remain in effect.
The IACHR must emphasize the importance of the work done by human rights
defenders in all countries of the hemisphere,
and it shall continue to observe carefully these events in Mexico.
process of reform and development in the area of human rights that the
Commission had noted in its Report on Mexico continues to forge ahead thanks to
substantial efforts by the Mexican State and civil society in that country.
The advances can be seen more clearly in terms of greater commitments to
international human rights instruments, as well as important initiatives of
institutional strengthening. In
that regard, the IACHR highlights the ratification of inter-American instruments
and of the contentious jurisdiction of the Court; the measures aimed at
strengthening the CNDH; and the wide array of governmental programs aimed at
nurturing national awareness on respect for human rights.
Also, the vigorous support that civil society lends to these initiatives
is undeniable, and it is represented by every type of association and
organization in an increasingly open political framework.
volume of information that was available to the IACHR, which to some extent has
been reflected in the instant report, is an indication of the attention given by
Mexicans and by the international community to the human rights situation in
that country. It also reveals that there are many shortcomings and tasks
outstanding, which are mentioned in this report.
In particular, the Commission has observed that impunity continues to be
a worrisome problem in Mexico, which is why it considers fundamental that the
State adopt firm measures to guarantee the investigation and punishment of human
rights violations, with strict observance of due process.
60. In concluding this follow-up report, the Commission urges the State to continue engaging in permanent dialogue with all sectors of civil society; to continue to foster human rights, strengthen the administration of justice, and protect the rights of all its inhabitants, in particular internally displaced persons, indigenous peoples, women, children, human rights defenders, journalists and the disenfranchised. Within the framework of its functions the IACHR will follow with great interest the evolution of the situation of human rights in Mexico.
IACHR, Report on the
Situation of Human Rights in Mexico, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.100, Doc.7 rev.1,
September 24, 1998. (http://www.cidh.org/countryrep/Mexico98en/table of
In particular, it should be
mentioned that the National Network of Civil Human Rights Organizations
“All rights for all,” made up of 50 non-governmental human rights
organizations, has submitted two documents that follow the structure of the
Report of the IACHR on Mexico.
 In its letter, the Mexican State said, inter
alia: “the recommendations in the Commission’s reports have
precisely that nature” (the State implies that they are not binding) and
that “it has attracted the attention of the Government that the Commission
decided to draft a report to follow up such recommendations”.
The document presented by the State is divided into the following
sections: I. General situation; II. General and institutional policies; III.
Prosecution and Administration of Justice (1. Strengthening of the
Judiciary; 2. Combating impunity); IV. Social, economic and cultural rights
(a. Housing; b. Health; c. Education) and IV. Situation of indigenous
peoples and their rights.
See IACHR, Press Release Nº 21/98 of December 15,
in its document dated March
31, 2000, the Mexican State informed that:
In 1999, the Ministry of Public Education (Secretaría
de Educación Pública, SEP) edited a special text for human rights
education at the secondary level and it included this subject in books about
civic education. Also, it introduced human rights as a subject in the primary
level textbooks, particularly the rights of the child.
The textbooks for primary and secondary education edited by the SEP,
which are distributed free of
charge throughout the country, are also obligatory.
For its part, the CNDH has
started many years ago a special program for human rights promotion.
With the purpose of strenthening and institutionalizing this program,
on September 19, 1998, the CNDH inaugurated the Center for Human Rights,
which is the first academic institution dedicated to studying, investigating
and promoting human rights. Currently,
the Center carries out activities in the fields of education, investigation,
publications, promotion and dissemination. During its first year, it
organized a graduate course and several other
human rights courses, and it is preparing a master’s program on
At a press conference given
at the headquarters of the CNDH, the High Commissioner emphasized the
autonomy and independence of the Mexican Ombudsman. However, she also said
that “it is not possible that human rights violations should continue to
occur,” and underscored the duty to combat “human rights violations
committed by individuals in uniform, be it the Navy, Army or Police.”
Press conference given by Mrs. Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights, Federal District of Mexico, November 25, 1999. http://www.cndh.org.mx/principal/temas/ventana/destaca1.htm
The Special Rapporteur
thanked the Mexican authorities for the guarantees and cooperation given
which made her visit successful. She
concluded in her report of November 25, 1999 that, despite the positive
measures adopted by the Mexican State, Impunity persists in that country
with respect to extrajudicial executions.
See United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur on
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Ms. Asma Jahangir, submitted
pursuant to Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1999/35,
E/CN.4/2000/3Add.3, November 25, 1999.
 IACHR, Report on Mexico cited supra, para. 686.
 For the complete text of the recommendations see
Report on Mexico, paras. 700-707.
 National Network of Civil Human Rights Organizations
“All rights for all,”La situación
de los derechos humanos en Mexico, seguimiento del Informe de la CIDH
sobre Mexico, September 30, 1999, pp. 14 and 15. The IACHR sent two
communications to the Mexican State in which it requested specific
information on the said proposed law; unfortunately, neither received a
See IACHR, Report on Mexico,
op. cit., paras. 122 and 123.
Document of the Mexican
State dated March 31, 2000, p. 4.
 United Nations, E/CN.4/2000/3/Add.3 supra,
 See IACHR, Press Release Nº 29/99, December 3, 1999.
 IACHR, Report on Mexico, op.cit. para. 707.
The Mexican State describes
that initiative as “a new political offer to the EZLN, with the purpose of
advancing one step more toward the solution of the conflict in that
state”; it adds that the offer “addresses the condition established by
the EZLN to restart dialogue, namely compliance with the San Andrés
Accords”. (Document of March 31, 2000, p. 13.
For its part, the National Network considers that “after three
years of suspended negotiations, it is too late for the proposal.” The
lack of acceptance of this initiative has also been explained in the
proposal addresses inadequately or not at all certain key points of dispute,
including army presence in indigenous communities, paramilitary groups, and
the 1996 legislative proposal of COCOPA (the congressional Commission for
Agreement and Pacification). These issues are among those that the EZLN (Zapatista
Army of National Liberation) has insisted must be satisfactorily addressed
as a pre-condition to future talks. Hence it seems unlikely that the
Zapatistas, who thus far have withheld any substantive response, will accept
the government's proposal.
Service for Peace (SIPAZ), Report Vol. 4 Nº 4, November 1999 (http://www.sipaz.org/frme.htm)
 IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., para. 219.
 Idem, paras. 708-715.
 Mexican NGOs applaud these initiatives but express
concern because the mechanisms for execution of such sentences have not been
put in place, for which reason they presume that the courts will simply
continue to impose prison sentences as a rule.
See Report of the National Network, op. cit., p. 24.
Mexican Commission on
Protection and Defense of Human Rights, request for precautionary measures.
 Report of the National Network, op. cit., p. 25.
organization Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) has carried out a
study on the situation of mental institutions in Mexico and made public the
respective report in February 2000. The
investigations of MDRI and other Mexican specialists have recently been
reflected in the press. See,
for instance, The New York Times Magazine, The Global Willowbrook,
electronic edition of January 20, 2000 (http://www.nytimes.com);
and Proceso magazine, Miseria,
abandono y derechos humanos
conculcados en los hospitales psiquiátricos, electronic edition Nº
1213 of January 30, 2000. (http://www.proceso.com.mx)
Shortly after the
aforementioned publications, the Mexican Minister of Health and the Governor
of the State of Hidalgo made a visit to the “Doctor Fernando Ocaranza”
Psychiatric Hospital; both officials committed to dealing with problems
observed. The visit was
reported in an article in Proceso,
entitled La accidentada visita de González Fernández al psiquiátrico
Ocaranza, electronic edition Nº 1214 of February 6, 2000.
See IACHR, Report on Mexico,
op. cit., paras. 716-727.
 The UN Human Rights Committee “took note with
satisfaction” of the decision of June 8, 1999, based on which autonomy was
granted to the CNDH, and described it as an improvement with respect to its
previous report. UN, Consideration
of reports submitted by States parties under Article 40 of the Covenant.
Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee. Mexico, CCPR/C/79/Add.109,
27 July 1999, para. 3. NGOs have also recognized the importance of the
promotional role of the CNDH in Mexico.
See, for instance, Human Rights Watch/Americas, Systemic
Injustice: Torture, Disappearance and Extrajudicial Execution in Mexico,
January 1999, p. 33.
 Document of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000,
pp. 6 and 7.
 Report of the National Network, op. cit., p. 29.
The problem, according to
the data received by the IACHR, is that “even if coercion is likely or
proven to have taken place, many judges go out of their way to accept
impugned evidence,” using the “principle of procedural immediacy.”
Human Rights Watch, Systemic Injustice, Report cited supra,
p. 10. In a decision adopted in March 1999, the Superior Court of Justice of
the Federal District took into account the report of the IACHR on the
so-called “Manríquez Case,” involving a citizen who had been sentenced
to imprisonment based on a confession extracted under torture.
The courts that had sentenced Mr. Manuel Manríquez did so applying
the principle of procedural immediacy in order to accord validity to the
above, clearly unsound evidence. In
a decision that constitutes a valuable precedent of compliance with
international obligations through judicial decisions, the above court found
Mr. Manríquez not guilty and released him.
See IACHR, Annual Report 1998, Report Nº 2/99 (Case 11.509 –
Manuel Manríquez), February 23, 1999.
 The UN Human Rights Committee also referred to the
problem of impunity in Mexico:
It is also a matter of concern that the acts of
torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions which have
taken place have not been investigated; that the persons responsible for
these acts have not been brought to justice, and that the victims or their
families have not received compensation.
The Committee is deeply concerned by the fact that no
institutionalized procedures exist for the investigation of allegations of
violations of human rights presumed to have been committed by members of the
armed forces and by the security forces, and that as a consequence those
allegations are frequently not investigated.
UN, Consideration of reports submitted by States
parties under Article 40 of the Covenant. Concluding observations of the
Human Rights Committee. Mexico, CCPR/C/79/Add.109, 27 July 1999, paras.
6 and 9.
 See IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 728-739.
 La Jornada, Reestructuran
ministerios públicos, internet edition of June 14, 1999.
Report of the National
Network, op. cit., p. 39.
La PGR “se ganó a pulso” la incredulidad social: Madrazo,
internet edition of September 23, 1999.
Document of the Mexican
State dated March 31, 2000, p. 6.
 Human Rights Watch, World Report 2000, p. 48.
HRW affirms furthermore that, “The changes would also make it
easier for prosecutors to obtain arrest warrants by requiring them to
document fewer facts about alleged crimes.” Mexican NGOs criticized the
reforms “for opening the door to abuse in a legal system already prone to
fabrication of evidence and coercion of the accused.”
Document of the Mexican
State dated March 31, 2000, pp. 5 and 6.
 See, for example, Revista
Proceso, El consejero jurídico
del DF advierte: son represivas las reformas al Código Penal,
electronic edition Nº 1194 of September 19, 1999.
In that article, the legal advisor to the Government of the Federal
District, said that the reforms will not necessarily mean better results in
combating crime, but “they will make matters worse in detention
centers.” In contrast, the Attorney General of the Federal District
underlined the positive aspects of the reforms, and said that they stem from
an undertaking adopted by the Government of the Federal District “to put
victims first in criminal proceedings and to try to balance the rights of
victims against the rights of criminals, which, to a large extent, brought
about the reforms of 1993.”
In that regard, Rapporteur
Asma Jahangir considers necessary a “comprehensive analysis of the
judicial system in Mexico” by the UN Special Rapporteur on the
independence of judges and lawyers. United
Nations, E.CN.4/2000/3/Add.3 op.cit., para. 98.
The Report of the National
The repeated practice has prompted greater
arbitrariness in the arrest of persons accused of crimes and, which is
worse, justification of the work of the police with the arrest of suspicious
persons, whom they later torture to persuade them to admit their
participation in the offence under investigation.
Another common practice is to blame a person who has committed a
crime of other similar crimes that have not been resolved, so that they may
then present the detainee -now responsible for several crimes- to the
public, and claim that they are being effective in pursuing crime.
Report of the National Network, op. cit.,
In its Report on Mexico, the
IACHR stressed “the obligation and right of a State to defend itself
against the armed dissident groups and to combat crime,” but that its
agents must “at all times respect human rights, including the right to
life and personal freedom.” IACHR,
Report on Mexico, op.cit., para. 686. The
Commission used similar terms upon concluding it on-site visit to Guatemala in August 1998:
experience shows that in order to combat crime effectively it is necessary
to set up well-trained, well-equipped and well-paid police forces that wage
a clean war against crime. … the IACHR would like to recall the fact that
effectively combating crime is associated with promoting values of tolerance
and strengthening the fabric of society via education and economic
development. It has been demonstrated that every additional year of
education received by the population as a whole geometrically reduces the
amount of criminal offenses committed in society. On occasions during its
visit the IACHR has mentioned the compatibility and interdependence between
human rights and effectively combating crime in the framework of the rule of
IACHR, Press Release Nº 15/98, Section 2 “Citizen
Security and Human Rights,” August 11, 1998.
 UN, Consideration of reports submitted by States
parties under Article 40 of the Covenant. Concluding observations of the
Human Rights Committee. Mexico, CCPR/C/79/Add.109, paras. 10 and 11.
 IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., para. 423.
IACHR, Report on Mexico, op.
cit., para. 500.
See IACHR, Report on Mexico,
op. cit., paras. 740-743. The
IFE and the Electoral Tribunal of the Federation have received widespread
recognition for their contribution to the development of democracy in
Mexico. In that regard, the
Director of the Management Development and Governance Division of the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Shabbir Cheema, expressed that
“Mexico has seriously undertaken the development of democracy, to the
extent that it has committed plenty of resources to strengthen its electoral
process” and that “governance has been established and globally
recognized as the center of the electoral process”
IFE, Press release Nº 24, Firme
compromiso, May 26, 1999 (http://www.ife.org.mx)
The State describes the
current situation as a “new stage” in which “the promotion and
protection of human rights has become one of the most important priorities
for the State and has been included in the national agenda.”
Document of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000, pp. and 2.
 See IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 744-748.
As to the information
pertaining to the period covered by this report, the Commission highlights
the official information about programs carried out by the National
Indigenous Institute (INI), the Secretariat for Public Education, SEDESOL
and the National System for Integral Family Development (DIF):
Specific programs have been undertaken, such as the
“Food Program for Direct Aid to the Indigenous Population in Extreme
Poverty” [Programa Alimentario de
Ayuda Directa a la Población Indígena en Extrema Pobreza],
“Education, Health and Food Program”
[Programa de Educación, Salud y Aimentación], “Program for Control of Epidemics and
Malnutrition” [Programa de Vigilancia
Epidemiológica de Desnutrición], and the “Winter Season Program”
[Programa de Temporada Invernal],
carried out by DIF, INI, the State Coordinating Office of Tarahumara and
SEDESOL; as well as the “Program for the Support of Indigenous Regions”
[Programa de Apoyo a Zonas Indígenas]
and the “Increased Coverage Program”
[Programa de Ampliación de la
Cobertura] under the Secretariat for Health (SSA), which benefit 14
million indigenous persons from 26 ethnic groups in 18 states of the
The INI, as part of its “Legal Training and Promotion
Program” [Programa de Capacitación
y Difusión Jurídica], supports organization and participation of
individuals from indigenous groups by means of several courses which include
activities such as translation, administrative actions, legal defense, and
promotion of human rights, of a collective and individual nature. Currently, the program comprises 45 groups of community
The INI also supports the “Justice Procurement
Program” [Programa de Procuración
de Justicia] which includes
legal advice, defense and actions in the criminal, civil and commercial
fields; anthropologic expert witnesses; attention of rural matters;
juridical promotion; liberation of indigenous prisoners; and protection of
natural resources and holy sites. In
this regard, 6,960 actions were taken in 1999 in the form of advice, defense
and assistance; 1,129 cases of legal anthropology;1,637 rural matters; 1,915
training activities and juridical promotion; and the liberation of 828
of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000.
The National Network
reported that “these peoples remain in a situation of inequality compared
to the rest of the population, enduring deplorable conditions and mostly
with hardly any access to health and basic services. The indigenous
municipalities continue to be ‘highly marginalized.’” Report of the
National Network, op. cit., p. 44. The
same report says that the Mexican State is also in breach of ILO Convention
Nº 169 on education, by failing to adopt measures designed to ensure access
to education at all levels in conditions of equality, or to consult the
interested parties in order to ensure that programs respond to their
particular needs. On the
question of health, the Network mentions that the situation of indigenous
day-laborers is preoccupying due their exposure to pesticides and, graver
still, that “armed guards continue to be used on many agroindustrial
estates in the north of the country.”
Idem, p. 45.
In connection with this the
National Network reported “deployment of a large number of military
personnel in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Guerrero, under the pretext
of conducting counterinsurgency or anti-drugs operations.”
Report of the National Network, op. cit. For its part, the State reported that “the National Defense
Secretariat has established Complaints and Consultation Offices to service
the civilian population in the states of Chiapas and Guerrero, with a view
to the timely follow-up of complaints raised by citizens regarding the
conduct of military personnel”. Document
of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000, p. 6.
 See IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 522-531.
With respect to the
government’s September 1999 peace plan for the state of Chiapas mentioned
in chapter II supra, it was
reported that “The plan's content included a promise that authorities
would ‘carefully analyze complaints of harassment and other illegal acts
denounced by diverse human rights organizations’ and the establishment of
a program within the federal Office of the Public Prosecutor to receive and
analyze such cases ”Human Rights Watch, World Report 2000, p. 50.
However, according to the same source, after the plan was announced,
state officials began to release from jail people detained in 1998 during a
government crackdown on "autonomous municipalities"; but that
“according to Mexican human rights groups, none of the people who were
released should have been detained in the first place; the arrests were
marred by illegal procedures, including lack of evidence and failure to
obtain arrest warrants.” Idem
 IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 164-170,
In that regard, the
information available to the IACHR indicates that the total of 55 people
with prison convictions is he result of “strong judicial action”,
although criticism remains as to the lack of investigation into the
higher-ranking government officials who might be implicated in the massacre
or in the subsequent cover-up. (SIPAZ,
op.cit.) Also, the
representative in Chiapas of the Mexican Commission for the Defense and
protection of Human Rights has expressed that the PGR did not go deep enough
into the investigation of the paramilitary groups, which would negatively
affect the overall inquiry of the Office of the Public Prosecutor.
La Jornada, Evita la PGR
investigar a paramilitares, electronic edition of January 11, 2000.
Human Rights Watch has also expressed that “despite the advances
made in the Acteal case, other serious human rights issues in Chiapas
remained unresolved”. HRW lamented the lack of important results in the PGR
investigations on the presence of groups of armed civilians in Chiapas, the
problems in the administration of justice, as well as the causes that led
the authorities to tolerate the arming of the group that perpetrated the
massacre. HRW, 2000 World
Report, supra pp. 49 and 50.
See IACHR, Report on Mexico,
op. cit., paras. 749-751.
of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000.
The State supplied ample
information on the governmental programs carried out in these areas, some of
which is summarized below:
Within the Annual Credit Program, between 1995 and
1998, national, state and municipal housing offices, commercial and
development banks, as well as other institutions, granted 1,853,620
loans…With the participation of the three sectors of the government and
society, new schemes are being sought with a view to increase acces to
beginning of the year 2000, 96.4 million Mexicans have basic health service
coverage. At the same time,
life expectancy has increased progressively: while in 1990 it was 70.8
years, in 1995 73 years and in 1999 74.4 years.
From 1994 to 1999, the Mexican government has built 156 new
hospitals, one every twelve days. It
has also built almost three thousand medical units, three every two days.
Medical units provide basic services which cove r 85% of common
illnesses affecting the population. Also,
in the year 2000 vaccination coverage is expected to reach more than 98%.
During the 1999-2000 period educational services are
given to just over 29 million children and young men and women within the
different varieties provided for in the National Educational System.
The greatest percentage increases in registration are measured in the
middle and high school levels, as a consequence of the dynamic number of
graduates, and also due to an increased supply of those services. The State
provides 89.7% of the services in the country in this area, while private
sector participation amounts to 10.3%.
Document of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000 pp.
 UN, Press Release HR/ESC/99/48, Committee on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Concludes Autumn Session, December
3, 1999 p. 9.
UN, Press Release
HR/ESC/99/48. That document also makes reference to the Committee’s
recommendation urging Mexico to “address the structural causes of poverty
in Mexico and to adjust the social programs accordingly.”
Idem, p. 10.
The International Commission
of Jurists observed in its report on Mexico that street children, “lacking
in family support or attention, are permanently exposed to violence, sexual
attacks and abuse, as well as sexual traffic.” International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights in
Mexico: Mission of the ICJ, Chenove, France, 1999. (unofficial
See IACHR, Report on Mexico,
op. cit., paras. 752-758.
IACHR, Report on Mexico, op.
cit., para. 753.
IACHR, Report of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Status of Women in the
Americas, OEA/Ser/V/II.100 Doc. 17, October 13, 1998, Recommendation B.2, p.
of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000. pp. 4-5.
 Introduction to the document “Comparison of the
federal laws that contain provisions relating to women and children with the
Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against
Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” cited by the Mexican
State in its communication to the Commission dated February 1, 2000.
The Mexican State’s
communication of February 1, 2000 to the IACHR says:
Six regional training workshops entitled “How to
Legislate with a Gender Focus” were held in the context of the plan to
amend the Mexican legal framework in favor of the rights of women and
children, which is being implemented by the General Coordinator of CONMUJER
and the National Program against Intra-Familial Violence 1999-2000 (PRONAVI).
The venues of the above workshops were the states of Sonora, Quintana
Roo, Colima, Querétaro, Zacatecas, and Guerrero.
The workshops are designed to explain to local legislators of both
sexes the content of the proposed reforms on gender that are indispensable
for safeguarding, inter alia, the right of women and children to a life free from
violence and to furnish those who promote these reforms with theoretical
instruments for defending them against the main legal objections that tend
to be raised.
According to a recent
publication, the governmental agency Desarrollo
Integral de la Familia (DIF) receives more than 20.000 reports on
mistreatment and sexual abuse of boys and girls. The main “agents of mistreatment”, in the terms of that
source, are the parents, which is why organizations of civil society
specialized in the field highlighted “the importance of awareness of the
boys and girls of their condition as persons with the right to be taken into
consideration and the possibility of making their opinion known”.
La Jornada, Padres
de familia, principal agente de maltrato a menores: ONG,
electronic edition of January 23, 2000.
In this regard, the Mexican State informed the IACHR that among the
international officers that visited the country in the period covered by
this report was Ms. Ofelia Calcetas-Santos, UN
Special Rapporteur on the Prevention of the Sale of
Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography. Document of March 31, 2000, p. 5.
 UN, CCPR/C/79/Add.109, op. cit., para. 16. Also, the
IACHR has been informed about 15 new cases of murdered women in Ciudad Juárez,
state of Chihuahua, in 1999, indicating a continuation of events whose
documentation had begun in 1993. In
a letter addressed to the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or
Arbitrary Executions, the director of “Casa Amiga – Centro de Crisis A.C.”
said that “rape, incest and domestic violence permeate the family and
social environment of our frontier, and the little progress that we have
achieved falls a long way short of satisfying the wishes of a broad sector
of society and of obtaining justice for these crimes.
The death of women and girls is the cruelest demonstration of public
reproduced in the document Cases of murdered and abducted women in Ciudad
Juárez, Chihuahua, presented to the IACHR during its 104th session by
the Mexican Committee on Defense and Protection of Human Rights, the
Coordinator of Non-Governmental Organizations in Support of Women of Ciudad
Juárez, and other organizations.
 IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 759-761.
 Report of the National Network, op. cit., pp. 61-62.
The journalist Jesús
Barraza Zavala turned to the IACHR in July 1999 and applied for protection
due to threats from alleged agents of the Federal Judicial Police (PJF) in
the city of San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora, after exposing in the weekly
newspaper El Pulso connections
between drug traffickers and agents of the PJF.
The measures adopted by the Mexican State for Barraza Zavala’s
protection included the
intervention of the State Attorney General of Sonora, the PGR, and the CNDH
through its Assistance Program for Offences against Journalists and Civilian
Human Rights Defenders.
IACHR, Report on Mexico, op.
cit., paras. 655 and 656.
 In both cases the IACHR concluded that the State was
not responsible for violation of the right to life of the journalists, but
that it was for violation of the rights to a fair trial and to judicial
protection of their relatives. Consequently the Commission recommended in
each of the respective reports that the State conduct a “serious,
exhaustive, impartial and effective” investigation to determine the
punitive responsibility of all the perpetrators of the acts; to determine
responsibilities for deficiencies in the investigation; and to provide
members of the journalists’ families with adequate reparation and
compensation. See IACHR, 1998
Annual Report, Report Nº 50/99 (Case 11.739 – Héctor Félix Miranda),
Mexico, April 13, 1999; and 1999 Annual Report, Report Nº 130/99 (Case
11.740 – Víctor Manuel Oropeza), Mexico, November 19, 1999.
UN, Consideration of
reports submitted by States parties under Article 40 of the Covenant.
Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee. Mexico, CCPR/C/79/Add.109,
Lawyers Committee for Human
Rights, A Disabling Environment:
Governmental Restrictions on Freedom of Human Rights NGOs in Mexico,
IACHR, 1998 Annual Report,
Report Nº 49/99 (Case 11.610 - Loren
Riebe et. al.), México, para. 113, p. 778.
Inter-American Court of
Human Rights, Provisional Measures, Decision of November 17, 1999.
La Jornada, No
cesan las amenazas de muerte contra miembros del Centro Pro,
electronic edition of February 12, 2000.
 In Chapter VII of its 1998 Annual Report, the Commission highlighted “the importance, as well as the ethical dimension, of the work carried out by persons and organizations dedicated to promote, monitor and provide counsel in the area of human rights“. The IACHR recommended to member states that they “take all necessary measures to protect the physical integrity of human rights defenders and to ensure they can work under appropriate conditions.” IACHR, 1998 Annual Report, p. 1189. Also, in June of 1999 the OAS General Assembly “urge[d] member states to persist in their efforts to provide Human Rights Defenders with the necessary guarantees and facilities to continue freely carrying out their work of promoting and protecting human rights, at the national and regional levels, in accordance with internationally recognized principles and agreements.” OAS General Assembly, “Human Rights Defenders in the Americas”, AG/RES.1671 (XXIX-O/99), June 7, 1999, Nº 2 of the Resolution.