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          I.         BACKGROUND 

          1.       During 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.[1] 

          2.       This 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. 

3.       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. 

4.       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.[2] 

          5.       The 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 country.[3]  The IACHR has analyzed the document submitted by the State and, where pertinent, reflected it in the instant report. 

6.       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.” [4]  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. 

          7.       In 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.[5]  The Commission hopes that its recommendations will be taken into consideration for the implementation of those promotional programs.

          8.       One 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 others.[6]  Also in 1999 was the visit to Mexico by Ms. Asma Jahangir, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.[7] 

            II.        RIGHT TO LIFE 

9.       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.[8]  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.[9] 

          10.     On 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 Report. 

          11.     According 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.”[10] 

          12.     With 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.   

13.     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,[11] 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 certain areas.[12] 

          14.     Special 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.[13] 

          15.     The 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.”  

16.     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.[14]  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.”[15]  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.[16]  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.[17]  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.[18] 

          19.     Information 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 Federal District.[19]  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.[20] 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.”[21]  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. 

          20.     The 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.[22]  The Commission is aware of the attention that senior government officials have recently given to the above situation,[23] 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 nature.[24] 

          22.     The 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 ombudsman.[25]  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. 

          23.     The 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 on Mexico. 

          24.     The 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 is, 0.3%.


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.[26] 

          25.     The 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 torture.”[27]  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.[28] 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.  


          26.     In its Report, the Commission considered that combating impunity is crucial to progress in the protection of human rights in Mexico,[29] 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.[30] 

          27.     Among 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.”[31] 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.[32] 

          28.     The 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.[33]  The Mexican State informed the Commission that the PGR “has undertaken a radical depuration of its personnel”.[34] 

          29.     The 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.”[35]  The Mexican State also submitted the following information pertaining to strengthening of the Judiciary: 

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.


It 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.[36] 

30.     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,[37] 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,[38] and that the abusive practices of security agents in Mexico have not been stamped out.[39]  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.[40] 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.


          The criminal 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.[41] 

          32.     The 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 of Mexico. 

            VI.       POLITICAL RIGHTS 

          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.[42]  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 system.”[43]  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 parties.[44]

          34.     The State referred to the development of political rights in Mexico in the following terms: 

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 thousand.[45] 

          35.     The 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. 

          36.     The 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: 

In the first half of 1999, the Executive Board shall submit to the General Council for its approval an opinion on the measures that the Federal Electoral Institute, in accordance with its competence, has adopted with respect to the recommendations and observations mentioned in the first point of the decision, and a work plan aimed at adopting such measures as may be required to comply, as necessary, with the recommendations and observations contained in the “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Mexico.”

37.     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 mentioned agreement. 


38.     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.[46] 

39.     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.[47]

          40.     Other 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.[48]  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 functions. 

          41.     On the other hand, the IACHR has received information on the militarization of indigenous areas,[49] an issue that caused it to express concern in its Report on Mexico.[50] 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.[51]  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,[52] 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 completely.[53]  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. 


43.     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 areas.[54]  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.[55] 

          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;[56] 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.[57] 

          45.     The 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.”[58]  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.[59]  One of the expressions of this serious problem is street children, common to many countries in the hemisphere, as well as to Mexico.[60]  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. 

          IX.       WOMEN’S RIGHTS 

          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.[61] 

47.     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,[62] and in the Report of the IACHR on the Status of Women in the Americas published in 1998.[63]  The Commission will remain attentive to the development of domestic provisions for the effective enforcement of that international instrument in Mexico. 

 48.    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.”[64] 

49.     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.”[65] 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 Republic. 

          50.     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[66] 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.[67]  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.[68] 

52.     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. 


53.     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.[69] 

54.     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:

Mexico 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.[70] 

55.     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.[71]  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[72] and whose cases were decided in 1999.[73] 

56.     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.[74]  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 association.”[75]  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.[76] 

57.     Finally, 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.[77]  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.[78]  The IACHR must emphasize the importance of the work done by human rights defenders in all countries of the hemisphere,[79] and it shall continue to observe carefully these events in Mexico.


          58.     The 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. 

          59.     The 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.

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[1] IACHR, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Mexico, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.100, Doc.7 rev.1, September 24, 1998. ( of contents.htm

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

[4]  See IACHR, Press Release Nº 21/98 of December 15, 1998.

[5] 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 this subject.


[6] 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.

[7] 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.

[8] IACHR, Report on Mexico cited supra, para. 686.

[9] For the complete text of the recommendations see Report on Mexico, paras. 700-707.

[10] 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 reply.

[11] See IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 122 and 123.

[12] Document of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000, p. 4.

[13] United Nations, E/CN.4/2000/3/Add.3 supra, paras. 97-102.

[14] See IACHR, Press Release Nº 29/99, December 3, 1999.

[15] IACHR, Report on Mexico, op.cit. para. 707.

[16] 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 following terms:

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.

International Service for Peace (SIPAZ), Report Vol. 4 Nº 4, November 1999 (

[17] IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., para. 219.

[18] Idem, paras. 708-715.

[19] 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.

[20] Mexican Commission on Protection and Defense of Human Rights, request for precautionary measures.

[21] Report of the National Network, op. cit., p. 25.

[22] The non-governmental 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 (; and Proceso magazine, Miseria, abandono  y derechos humanos conculcados en los hospitales psiquiátricos, electronic edition Nº 1213 of January 30, 2000. (

[23] 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.

[24] See IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 716-727.

[25] 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.

[26] Document of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000, pp. 6 and 7.

[27] Report of the National Network, op. cit., p. 29.

[28] 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.

[29] 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.

[30] See IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 728-739.

[31] La Jornada, Reestructuran ministerios públicos, internet edition of June 14, 1999.

[32] Report of the National Network, op. cit., p. 39.

[33] La Jornada, La PGR “se ganó a pulso” la incredulidad social: Madrazo, internet edition of September 23, 1999.

[34] Document of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000, p. 6.

[35] 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.”

[36] Document of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000, pp. 5 and 6.

[37] 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.”

[38] 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.

[39] The Report of the National Network says:

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., p. 38.

[40] 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:

International 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 law.

IACHR, Press Release Nº 15/98, Section 2 “Citizen Security and Human Rights,” August 11, 1998.

[41] 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.

[42] IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., para. 423.

[43] IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., para. 500.

[44] 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 (

[45] 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.

[46] See IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 744-748.

[47] 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 Republic.

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 representatives.

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 indigenous prisoners.

Document of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000.

[48] 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.

[49] 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.

[50] See IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 522-531.

[51] 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

[52] IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 164-170, 562.

[53] 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.

[54] See IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 749-751.

[55] SEDESOL, Fondo de Aportaciones para la Infraestructura Social,

[56]  Document of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000.

[57] 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 credit…

At  the 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. 7-9.

[58] UN, Press Release HR/ESC/99/48, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Concludes Autumn Session, December 3, 1999 p. 9.

[59] 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.

[60] 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 translation)

[61] See IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 752-758.

[62] IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., para. 753.

[63] 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. 36.

[64] Document of the Mexican State dated March 31, 2000. pp. 4-5.

[65] 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.

[66] 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.

[67] 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.

[68] 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 insecurity.”  Letter 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.

[69] IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 759-761.

[70] Report of the National Network, op. cit., pp. 61-62.

[71] 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.

[72] IACHR, Report on Mexico, op. cit., paras. 655 and 656.

[73] 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.

[74] 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, para. 13.

[75] Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, A Disabling Environment: Governmental Restrictions on Freedom of Human Rights NGOs in Mexico, July 1999.

[76] IACHR, 1998 Annual Report, Report Nº 49/99 (Case 11.610 -  Loren Riebe et. al.), México, para. 113, p. 778.

[77] Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Provisional Measures, Decision of November 17, 1999.

[78] La Jornada, No cesan las amenazas de muerte contra miembros del Centro Pro, electronic edition of February 12, 2000.

[79] 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.