On February 10, for the first time, Mexico underwent the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the Human Rights Council of the United Nations (UN) in Geneva. The UPR is a mechanism of the UN whose objective is to examine the achievement of human rights agreements and obligations in each member State. The critics of the presentation given by the Mexican government have been many and vocal. Jose Luis Soberanes, the Mexican ombudsman, stated that “the issues have been badly presented” and the results “have been manipulated”. He also expressed that in Mexico “the problem that we have is that what is resolved in the international bodies, such as the Human Rights Council, later is not implemented. There is a gap between what happens in the international bodies and what happens internally”.
The government stated in its report the proposal to withdraw the military from the fight against organized crime in the long term and support the establishment of a National Program of Human Rights. This plan has been questioned by organizations for being proposed solely for the UPR and without the intention of actually implementing it.
In addition two other reports were presented: the first compiled by agencies of the UN and the other by NGOs. While the Mexican state presented its report, the Mexican and international NGOs were allowed to be present but were not allowed to talk.
The report of the organizations from civil society, which was presented in September of 2008, showed a different reality with regard to human rights in Mexico. It criticized that the militarization and the fight against organized crime has focused entirely on questions of security and has sacrificed respect for human rights. It stressed that criminalization of social protest continues along with aggression and hostility towards human rights defenders, violations of fundamental guarantees by the military, feminicide, torture, and arbitrary detentions.
International organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch strongly emphasized problems of impunity in Mexico. They pointed to “the hundreds of homicides and the 700 forced disappearances which took place between the 1960s and 1980s” and that it still continues by not giving sentences according to the facts in San Salvador Atenco and in Oaxaca in the last few years. “The agents of the federal, state, and municipal police of Mexico are implicated in grave human rights violations; such as torture, violations, and homicide, especially the actions committed during the civil disturbances in San Salvador Atenco and the City of Oaxaca in 2006, which have still not been brought to justice”.
Friday, February 13, the countries carrying out the review on February 10, South Africa, Pakistan, and Nicaragua, will present their report to the public. The government of Mexico will show in the document if it accepts, rejects, or waits to decide on the criticisms and proposals which the Council formulated in the session on Tuesday.
More Information in Spanish: