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Mexico: Provide Information on Military Impunity

Lic. Fernando Francisco Gómez-Mont Urueta
Secretario de Gobernación
Abraham González No. 48
Col. Juárez, Del. Cuauhtémoc, C. P. 06600
México, D.F.

Dear Mr. Gómez Mont,

On behalf of the Human Rights Watch delegation that visited Mexico in April 2009, I would like to thank you for receiving us to discuss the use of military jurisdiction to prosecute and try army abuses against civilians in Mexico.  To follow up on the issues we discussed during our meeting, which we analyze in detail in our report "Uniform Impunity: Mexico's Misuse of Military Justice to Prosecute Abuses in Counternarcotics and Public Security Operations,"[1] I am writing now to respectfully request you for additional information on this pressing issue.

On June 11, 2009, government officials from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated during Mexico's Universal Periodic Review in Geneva that the "military justice system currently investigates  6 cases that are in the preliminary investigation phase, 3 cases in which 32 military personnel have been brought before the authorities, and there are 9 registered convictions against 14 military personnel."[2]

Until this presentation, the Mexican government had failed to provide a single example of a criminal conviction issued over the past 10 years by military courts against members of the military accused of committing a human rights violation against a civilian.  Thus, in light of this new (but incomplete) information, it would be extremely useful if you could provide us copies of the relevant documents connected to the nine convictions mentioned in the Mexican government's presentation in Geneva.  In particular, we would like to receive copies of the charges, indictments, court records, transcripts and judgments, including sentencing.  At a minimum, we would like to know:

  1. What crimes are the men convicted of committing, and on which acts exactly are their convictions based?
  2. What are the facts of the cases, when did the crimes occur and what is the date of the rulings?
  3. What is the rank of the 14 military personnel convicted?
  4. Were there other defendants with those convicted who were acquitted? If so, were those acquitted military personnel and of which rank?
  5. Did the military courts impose custodial sentences on each of the 14 men convicted and if so of what length?
  6. Did those convicted serve their custodial sentence, and if so, how long did they in fact spend in prison and are any of them still currently in prison serving sentences?
  7. Are these convictions subject to review by a higher court, and if so, were they reviewed or are any of the convictions pending review or appeal?

Thank you in advance for any information you can provide to respond to these questions. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

José Miguel Vivanco
Americas Director
Human Rights Watch

CC: Alejandro Poiré Romero, Coordinador de Asesores

Lic. Daniel Francisco Cabeza de Vaca Hernández, Subsecretario de Asuntos Jurídicos y Derechos Humanos

Dr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Jefe de la Unidad para la Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos


[1] The report, which was issued in April 2009, is available at https://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/04/29/mexico-hold-military-account-rights-abuses.

[2] "UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW. Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. Mexico. Addendum. Views on conclusions and/or recommendations, voluntary commitments and replies presented by the State under review," http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session4/MX/A_HRC_11_27_Add1_MEX_E.pdf, para. 16.

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