08.20.09

Comment On State And Foreign Operations On The State Department's August 13th Report On Human Rights In Mexico

"The United States and Mexico have joined together in a multi-year campaign against heavily armed drug cartels that are committing horrific crimes against civilians and government forces alike.
 
"Since June 2008, I have supported over $1 billion in aid for Mexico, and I expect to support more in the future. The challenges Mexico faces are complex and will take many years to solve.  They also require a far more effective effort on our part to reduce the demand for drugs in the U.S. and the flow of guns from the U.S. into Mexico.
 
"Last year, as part of the Merida Initiative, the Congress included four requirements related to human rights, which were drafted with the participation of the State Department and the Mexican government. Those requirements include that the Mexican civilian judicial authorities are investigating and prosecuting, in accordance with Mexican and international law, military officers involved in human rights violations.
 
"The report issued by the State Department mentions several positive steps taken by the Mexican government in furtherance of the requirements.  But it is most notable for how little it says about the key issue - impunity within the Mexican military.  It is well known that the military justice system is manifestly ineffective, and it is apparent that neither the Mexican government nor the State Department has treated human rights abuses by the military, which is engaging in an internal police function it is ill-suited for, as a priority since the law was enacted over a year ago.
 
"Reform of Mexico's dysfunctional judicial system is a process that will take years.  But it is critical to the success of the Merida Initiative and to addressing the culture of lawlessness that pervades Mexican society.
 
"While I am deeply disappointed that the State Department issued its report prematurely when there is so little progress to report, I know President Obama recognizes the importance of these issues and I expect that when the next report is submitted it will document that the Mexican government is meeting the requirements in the law, consistent with the intent of Congress."

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