Commissioners: Commissioner Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Commissioner Felipe Gonzalez, Commissioner Rodrigo Escobar Gil

Participants: Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (Cencos), Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz (SERAPAZ), Centro de Derechos Humanos y Asesoría a Pueblos Indígenas (CEDHAPI), Consultoría de los Pueblos Indígenas en el Norte de Mexico (CINM), Instituto Internacional de Derechos Humanos de DePaul University, Comisión de Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Sinaloa (CDDHS), Centro de Derechos Humanos Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño (BARCA), Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH), i(dh)eas, Litigio Estratégico en Derechos Humanos, Movimiento para la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad

State: Mexico

Topic: Security, Human Rights

A civil society representative began a hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on October 27, 2011 by describing citizen security in Mexico as a national emergency of violence and impunity. Julia Alonzo, a mother whose child disappeared on January 12, 2008, spoke thereafter. She described how she has searched all over for her son. They lived in Acapulco, but she had to move after receiving threats because she could not seek protection from the State. She said she came to Washington because she does not know any other way to find her son.

Juan Sicilia, whose 24 year-old son, Juan Francisco Sicilia, was assassinated in the city of Cuernavaca, expressed his concern about the corruption in Mexico and the 98% of crimes in Mexico that end in impunity. Mr. Sicilia has launched a campaign for no more blood and for peace with justice and dignity. The representatives from civil society stated that the government office for attention to victims of crime, Procuraduría Social para Atención a Víctimas, is not doing enough and that the inaction and inefficiency of the government leads to more disappearances each day. Carla Espinoza, director of the Center for Human Rights in the Americas of the International Human Rights Institute of DePaul University, introduced a few representatives who spoke to the issue of forced disappearances.

The delegation from Mexico spoke to the petitioners and said that combating violence is a priority for Mexico. The first government representative reported that the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances visited Mexico in March 2011 and will produce a report very soon. The delegation then showed a short video as a summary of President Felipe Calderon’s dialogue with the movement for peace. In the video, the President ended with the famous statement attributed to pastor Martin Niemoeller about inaction and said that his government will continue to act, and to change when they make errors.

The Mexican government representatives continued by enumerating some of the changes they have made and by saying that security is a precondition for the full human rights of its citizens. The government will continue to confront the problems arising from narcotrafficking and juvenile delinquency. One of the representatives said the government’s actions have been the consequence, but not the cause, of the violence. However, the representative recognized that the government needs to work to enforce its institutions, and it values the participation of civil society.

Commissioner Paulo Sergio Pinheiro asked if the government could comment on Mexico’s office for attention to victims of crime. Commissioner Felipe Gonzalez asked how the Mexican government is addressing the differences among states with regards to impunity, kidnappings, murders, etc. Commissioner Rodrigo Escobar Gil discussed his visit to Mexico and the real humanitarian tragedy of the massive number of kidnappings of migrants, and he asked if the government is addressing the needs of the families of victims of crime, and about what it is doing to improve the investigation of crimes.

The government responded by saying that the Procuraduría Social para Atención a Víctimas has received resources to attend to victims in the future and they are working to help victims and their families, including by trying to find persons who have disappeared. In response to the question from Commissioner Felipe Gonzalez about putting the federal and state efforts in sync, the government representative said that in Mexico there are approximately 430,000 police officers, but of those, at the federal level there are just approximately 34,438 officers. In regards to the commission of crimes, in 2010, 92.7% of crimes were local, and just 7.3% were federal crimes. The last government representative said that a new law was passed on February 27, 2011 to prevent and to sanction crimes in matters of abduction.

The civil society representatives responded by saying that they are asking for more than a symbolic presence of citizens and victims in the government’s efforts. The representative also said that there should be more investigation of the money transfers being made to kidnappers. He ended by emphasizing that Mexico has the information they need to access this financial data and combat this phenomenon.