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Mexico: López Obrador’s government must prioritize human rights

    March 12, 2019

    President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government took some steps to improve the human rights situation in Mexico during the first 100 days of his administration but has yet to take the kind of emphatic action that would convince the country of his commitment to change, said Amnesty International today.

    “Mexico has a long and disturbing history of human rights violations. In recent years, the country has descended into a serious crisis. After decades of struggle by human rights organizations and victims’ groups, it would be a tragedy to miss this opportunity to change the country’s direction,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “President López Obrador must acknowledge and prioritize the major human rights challenges facing the country. Now is the time to take concrete action to achieve genuine change. Recognition of the work done by human rights defenders and organizations, as well as support for them, must be a priority for the president.”

    At the end of November, Amnesty International wrote an open letter to President López Obrador with  recommendations for specific actions he could take in the first 100 days of his government to improve the human rights situation. To close this campaign, the organization has written another letter noting the progress made and reiterating its call for other measures. 

    “The human rights discourse and actions during the first 100 days of the new government have been inconsistent. We appreciate the government’s willingness to acknowledge the state’s responsibility for some crimes under international law and serious human rights violations in the past and to apologize to the victims,” said Tania Reneaum, Executive Director of Amnesty International Mexico.

    “However, we regret that no progress has been made on major issues such as recognition of the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances to consider reports filed in Mexico, and ratification of the Escazú Agreement, an international treaty that would help to protect defenders of the environment”, added Tania Reneaum.

    A recent change in the Constitution allows the creation of a National Guard, which will involve the military for a period of up to five years. It will be essential for the president and his government to guarantee observance of international human rights standards, including civilian command and full accountability to a civilian and independent body with the necessary expertise. Mexico’s government must use this constitutional reform as a starting point for planning for the orderly withdrawal of the armed forces from public security tasks.

    There have certainly been some positive steps, for example, in the search for truth and justice and in cases of human rights violations, through the creation of an investigative commission on the Ayotzinapa case, which began work on 15 January. And the commitment expressed by Alejandro Encinas, Under-Secretary for Human Rights, to start a programme to search for disappeared persons, under the responsibility of the National Search Commission, which Amnesty International hopes will be implemented soon.

    “In 100 days, we have seen some small changes and, in general, good intentions, but Mexico needs and deserves more if it is going to achieve real change in the country’s human rights situation,” concluded Tania Reneaum.   

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