Despite progress toward freer elections in Mexico, the country's human rights performance is lagging behind.

In a background paper issued before the July 2 presidential election in Mexico, Human Rights Watch said that freer elections alone would not solve the country's human rights problems, which include torture, arbitrary detention, and extrajudicial executions. The Mexican government must pursue an active agenda to stamp out such abuses, Human Rights Watch said.

The New York-based organization noted that none of the leading presidential candidates has made human rights a central element of his platform.

"Mexico deserves praise for making progress in elections, but that doesn't mean it has made overall progress in human rights," said Joel Solomon, director of research for the Americas division of Human Rights Watch. "Clean elections carry the promise of a better life for Mexicans. But that promise will go unfulfilled if real advances aren't made in human rights."

Problems in monitoring Sunday's ballot may still surface, Human Rights Watch warned, including how the electoral authorities handle the hard-to-watch rural vote and manage allegations of fraud if the election results hang in the balance.