No. 32/02




1.           At the invitation of the Government of the United Mexican States, a delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights conducted a working visit to that country from July 24 to August 1, 2002.  Heading the delegation was the Commission’s President, Dr. Juan E. Méndez, who is also the rapporteur on the rights of migrant workers and their families in the hemisphere.  Dr. Méndez was accompanied by the Commission’s attorney in charge of cases involving Mexico, Dr. Mario López Garelli, and the consultants working with the Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families, Dr. Andreas Feldmann and Dr. Helena Olea.  The purpose of the visit was to hold a number of working meetings on individual cases and to examine the situation of the rights of migrant workers and their families in Mexico.  Activities to promote the inter-American system for the protection of human rights were also on the mission’s agenda.




2.          The working meetings, held in Mexico City on July 25 and 26, examined cases in which the IACHR had already established the presence of human rights violations and had made recommendations to the Government.  Also discussed were cases for which a friendly settlement was currently being sought and of which this international body remains seized.  This is the second time the Secretariat for Foreign Affairs of Mexico has invited the Commission to examine the follow-up measures and friendly settlement processes; a similar mission was conducted in July 2001.  The follow-up reports discussed were the following:


-        Loren L. Riebe et al., arbitrary expulsion of three foreign priests from Chiapas in 1995;


-        Ejido Morelia, extrajudicial execution of three rural farm workers in Chiapas in 1994 and subsequent impunity;


-         Ana, Beatriz and Celia González Pérez, arbitrary detention and rape of three indigenous sisters by military personnel in Chiapas in 1995; impunity;


-         Aguas Blancas massacre, extrajudicial execution of 17 men in Guerrero in 1995, violation of due process and impunity;


-         Rolando and Atanasio Hernández Hernández, extrajudicial execution in Veracruz in 1994, violation of effective judicial protection, impunity.


3.            The President of the Commission chaired these working meetings.  Also in attendance were high-ranking dignitaries from the Secretariat for Foreign Affairs of Mexico and officials from various states, among them the Attorney General of Chiapas and representatives of the governments of Chiapas, Morelos, Veracruz and Oaxaca.   Representing the victims were immediate next of kin and organizations like the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, the Center for Justice and International Law, the “Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez” Human Rights Center, Christians for the Abolition of Torture, the Association of Relatives of Detainees, Disappeared and Victims of Human Rights Violations in Mexico, the law firm of “Tierra y Libertad”, the Oaxaca Teachers’ Human Rights Commission and the Organización Campesina de las Sierras del Sur.


          4.          The case follow-up work was performed as part of the Inter-American Commission’s functions under the OAS Charter, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Commission’s Statute and its Rules of Procedure, particularly articles 46 and 62.  Significant progress was made during the course of these meetings.  They were instrumental in advancing the business of the working groups composed of government officials and representatives of the victims.  Those working groups were created in July 2001, to agree on concrete measures for compliance with the Commission’s recommendations, on reparations proposals, and on proposed reforms to bring Mexico’s domestic laws in line with its international commitments in the area of human rights.


          5.          The Inter-American Commission also held meetings on a number of cases currently in the friendly settlement process.  Participating were the competent authorities, the respective petitioners and the victims’ next of kin.  Those meetings came up with important progress agreements that set deadlines and called for specific results.  Dr. Juan Méndez will report the substance of those agreements to the IACHR at its forthcoming session.




6.          While in Mexico, the IACHR also actively promoted human rights.  Dr. Méndez and delegation members participated in the “Seminar on the Justiciability of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.”  This academic event was staged at the Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas [Juridical Research Institute] of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and was organized by CEJIL, the Center for Civil & Human Rights of the University of Notre Dame in the United States, and UNAM’s own institute.




          7.          The Office of the IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families in the Hemisphere conducted an in loco visit to Mexico to examine the migrant workers’ situation.   The members of the team of Rapporteur Dr. Juan Méndez began their visit on July 25, 2002 in Tapachula, in the state of Chiapas, where they met with authorities from the Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Preventive Police, and the municipal president of Tapachula.  On Friday, July 26, Dr. Feldmann and Dr. Olea continued their business with officials from the National Migration Institute.  They toured border stations along Mexico’s southern frontier and conferred with the Chairman of the State Human Rights Commission.


          8.          On July 27, 2002, the Rapporteur held several meetings in Mexico City with civil society organizations dedicated to the rights of migrant workers in Mexico.  On July 28, 2002, the Rapporteur’s full team visited the Ixtapalapa migrant center in the Federal District.  The Mexico City meetings continued into July 29, this time with the Deputy Secretary for Population and Migration Services and with authorities from the Secretariat for Foreign Affairs, the National Migration Institute, the National Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic and the Secretariat for Public Safety.


          9.          On July 30, 2002, following a working breakfast with Senator Silvia Hernández and Representative Irma Piñeiro, the Rapporteur’s Office traveled to the northern border of Mexico.  In Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, they met with the Chihuahua State Human Rights Commission.  Dr. Méndez and the team members conferred with a number of civil society organizations working on the murders and disappearances of women in Ciudad Juárez.  They also met with the next of kin of the victims of these crimes.  A meeting was also held in Ciudad Juárez with the Special Prosecutor appointed to investigate the murders of women in that community, and with the Coordinator of Victims’ Treatment and Disappearance of Women.


          10.          On July 31, 2002, the Rapporteur and his team toured the border stations near Ciudad Juárez, accompanied by the Director of the Migrant Protection Groups (Beta Groups).  The Rapporteur also spoke with the delegate from the National Migration Institute in Chihuahua, that state’s Government Secretary, and the Mexican consuls in El Paso and Nogales.  The Rapporteur’s team also met with authorities from the Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Preventive Police and the Municipal President of Ciudad Juárez.


          11.          Today, the Rapporteur’s team visited the Casa del Migrante [Migrant Center] in Ciudad Juárez, and with that wrapped up its visit to Mexico.  The Rapporteur’s Office will do a preliminary evaluation of the activities conducted during its visit and make it public in due course.


* * * * * *


          12.          The IACHR is grateful to the Mexican State for its invitation, which was an important signal of the willingness to comply with its international obligations in the area of human rights.  The Commission is particularly appreciative of the cooperation it received from the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Human Rights and Democracy, Mariclaire Acosta, and from Juan José Gómez Camacho, Director of Human Rights with the Secretariat for Foreign Affairs of Mexico.  The facilities they afforded made the Commission’s visit a success.


Washington, D.C., 1 August 2002