Issues Concerning Torture, the Militarization of the Police, and Enforced Disappearances also Raised
17 October 2019
The Committee on Human Rights today concluded its consideration of the sixth periodic report of Mexico, with Committee Experts asking about violence against women, journalists, human rights defenders and others in the country. The “systematic” use of torture, the militarization of the police and enforced disappearances were among other issues raised.
On violence in Mexico, Committee Experts asked about violence against women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, migrants and others. An Expert said that so far in 2019, 12 journalists had been killed in Mexico, and a civil society organization had called Mexico the deadliest country in the world for journalists. The number for human rights defenders was also high.
The delegation of Mexico said that all cases of violent deaths of women were investigated with a gender perspective. A law on violence against women had been adopted in 2017 and three instruments had been developed to deal with this issue. Feminicide was criminalized in all 32 federal entities. Between 2011 and 2017, the National Council against Discrimination had under its review a total of 1,075 alleged cases of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
A protection mechanism benefitted journalists and human rights defenders whose well-being was jeopardized due to their work, the delegation said. A mechanism had been in place for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists since 2012, with a budget of one billion pesos or 50 million dollars. One thousand and thirty-nine individuals had benefitted from this mechanism, 691 were human rights defenders and the rest were journalists.
A Committee Expert said torture and ill treatment occurred at very high levels in Mexico and were defined as “systematic”. The militarization of the police contributed to high levels of this form of violence, and most fingers were pointing towards the armed forces and law enforcement. The 2014 disappearance of 43 young students in Ayotzinapa was an emblematic case of enforced disappearances in Mexico, said another Expert, noting that five years later, there had not been a single conviction.
The delegation said that the National Guard was a civilian body. The army only played a temporary role in ensuring security, assisting civilian bodies. Their participation was always timebound and supervised by civilians. The first act of the new President of Mexico had been to create a special commission to address the case of the 43 students in Ayotzinapa and determine their whereabouts.
Committee Experts also noted that while the 2013 Victims Act was a very good law on paper, there were concerns about its effective implementation. Only 4.5 per cent of the people registered as victims had been able to obtain compensation.
The delegation said that there were 27,000 people listed in the victims’ registrar and over one billion pesos or around 50 million dollars had been transferred to victims as a form of compensation.
Marta Delgado Peralta, Under-Secretary for International Affairs and Human Rights at the Secretariat of International Affairs of Mexico, introducing the report,
said that Mexico had started a process of transformation aiming to allow Mexicans to live in peace. It was fighting corruption and impunity. Mexico faced considerable challenges related to poverty and access to basic services which widened the rifts of inequality. The Government was working on new social programmes that would address gaps that persisted in rural areas and affected persons with disabilities. In that regard, the rights enshrined in the Covenant corresponded to the spirit of transformation behind the Government’s current actions.
In concluding remarks, Ms. Delgado Peralta thanked the Committee for allowing the delegation to share Mexico’s efforts to fully implement all rights in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Mexico still faced a great many challenges and there was still a long road before it to improve compliance with these rights.
Ahmed Amin Fathallah, Committee Chairperson, said in concluding remarks that it had been a constructive dialogue, and the Committee welcomed Mexico’s cooperation with United Nations organs and offices. He welcomed what had been stated by the delegation that the issue of disappeared persons was a number one priority, and measures to deal with discrimination, including against women.
The Committee will issue the concluding observations on the report of Mexico at the end of its one hundred and twenty-seventh session on 8 November. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.
All public meetings of the Human Rights Committee are webcast live at http://webtv.un.org/ while the meeting summaries in English and French can be accessed at the United Nations Office at Geneva’s News and Media page.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. today to review the fourth periodic report of the Czech Republic (CCPR/C/CZE/4).
The Committee has before it the sixth periodic report of Mexico (CCPR/C/MEX/6).
Presentation of the Report
MARTA DELGADO PERALTA, Under-Secretary for International Affairs and Human Rights at the Secretariat of International Affairs of Mexico, said that Mexico had started a process of transformation aiming to allow Mexicans to live in peace, and was fighting corruption and impunity. Mexico faced considerable challenges related to poverty. Access to basic services which widened the rifts of inequality. The Government was working on new social programmes that would address gaps that persisted in rural areas and affected persons with disabilities. In that regard, the rights enshrined in the Covenant corresponded to the spirit of transformation behind the Government’s current actions. The Government was convinced that inclusive, prosperous and happy societies could only be achieved by safeguarding human rights.
A constitutional reform on gender parity in State bodies had been enacted in June. Gender equality was a reality in the two chambers of the legislative branch -- 50 per cent of their members were women. The Government had adopted affirmative action policies to foster the political participation of indigenous peoples. Since 2018, in the 13 federal districts where 60 per cent or more of the population was indigenous, political parties had to present candidates who self-identified as indigenous. A constitutional reform had been completed which enshrined the recognition of the Issues Concerning Torture, the Militarization of the Police, and Enforced Disappearances also Raised peoples and communities, who had been historically rendered invisible. In 2018, the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples had been created to put an end to the structural discrimination faced by indigenous peoples and Afro-Mexicans.
As there were still various components of Mexican legislation that could lead to violations of human rights, the federal legislative branch was considering a reform that would abolish preventive custody. This would ensure that no one was unjustly detained. On human rights defenders and journalists, the Mexican Government had a protection mechanism which benefitted such persons whose well-being was jeopardized due to their work. Efforts were being made to improve this mechanism based on an evaluation conducted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Disappearances, such as forced disappearances, were a painful legacy of the past and a wound that was still open to this day for thousands of Mexican families. That was why the Government heeded the requests of families and civil society organizations and was relaunching the National System for Searches.
Ms. Delgado Peralta reaffirmed Mexico’s will to establish a constructive dialogue with the Committee: the recommendations would be considered in the context of the elaboration of the National Human Rights Programme 2019-2024
Questions by the Committee Experts
A Committee Expert asked for additional information about the State party’s plans and programmes on human rights and requested examples of direct invocations of the Covenant in its national courts. What had been the role of civil society organizations in the preparation of the report and the responses to the list of issues? She inquired if feminicide was recognized nationally and whether the Government used risk indicators in that regard.
When a woman reported violence, which criteria were used to impose a restraining order on the culprit? She requested information about the waiting period imposed prior to the entry into force of the restraining order.
On Ciudad Juarez, what had been the results of the impact assessment conducted to gauge the efficacy of measures that had been put in place there? She stressed that children were also victims of domestic violence.
Another Expert welcomed progress and developments achieved on matters such as torture and disappearances, the creation of a Commission to investigate the deaths of 43 students, and the frequent citation of the Covenant in laws. It was striking in reading the Committee’s concluding observations on Mexico’s previous report that accountability was amongst issues flagged. How would the Government take the next steps to address this matter?
He requested information about the militarization of the police and steps taken to change this situation. Turning to the State party’s constitutional framework, he welcomed recent amendments, but requested information on the application of the pro persona principle, notably when international norms and the Constitution stood in contradiction.
The 2013 Victims’ Act was a very good law on paper, an Expert remarked.
However, there were concerns regarding its effective implementation. Victims were coming across numerous obstacles when seeking its application, which inflicted upon them another form of victimization. Only 4.5 per cent of the people registered as victims had been able to obtain compensation. Was there a true desire to provide financing to the various existing organizations so that victims could seek redress?
She welcomed the nomination of a Special Prosecutor for enforced disappearances. This Special Prosecutor’s Office, however, faced financial, material and human resources problems. Furthermore, oftentimes, families of the disappeared were not involved in the search nor were they kept abreast of developments. Also, a differentiated approach was lacking.
Another Expert expressed concerns about the situation of female domestic workers. Was there any intention to revise the Federal Labour Act and ensure it applied to domestic workers? How was the Government tackling the intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women with disabilities? He drew the delegation’s attention to the alarming levels of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. Instances of violence against them were too often mischaracterized as “crimes of passion”.
On abortion, he pointed out the conflicting laws at the State level. What efforts if any had been made to harmonize abortion laws at the federal level to ensure equal access in all states?
An Expert noted the continued role of the military in law enforcement and cited the Cartel ambush that took place in Aguililla. Was the establishment of the National Guard likely to reduce or perpetuate the trend towards the militarization of the police? He requested information on measures taken to ensure civilian control over the National Guard and inculcate this body with a human rights culture. Turning to human rights abuses by the State, he welcomed the recent legislation on torture and forced disappearance, but expressed concerns about the level of violations in Mexican prisons, police violence in La Concepcion and incidents in Palmarito Tochapan. He requested information on steps taken to address these issues.
Could the delegation provide information on measures taken to ensure the continuation of investigations related to human rights violations perpetrated during the “dirty war”? He sought clarification regarding the declassification of governmental files on this matter. On self-defence groups, he asked for information on the legal framework allowing them to exercise de facto authority under the control of the federal police.
An Expert flagged judicial reforms such as the introduction of trust evaluations, mandatory rotations and lower salaries that seemed to contravene the independence of justice. He asked the delegation to comment on this matter.
Another Expert asked about the welfare of black people in Mexico.
Responses by the Delegation
On invoking the Covenant before national courts, the delegation explained that a ruling had established that all norms stemming from international agreements had constitutional status. Soft law also had a domestic status. At the federal level, there were 44 rulings and opinions that referred to the Covenant. The Covenant had constitutional status; it was on the same level as the Constitution. Furthermore, the list of rights outlined in the Constitution was very similar to that of the Covenant.
The Supreme Court in two rulings had given precedence to international agreements and instruments over the Constitution. On the legislative initiatives that could endanger the independence of the judiciary according to Committee Experts, changes should be carried out in two ways: through self-reform and legislative action. Legislative action should not be perceived as threats against the judiciary. The legislative reforms should strengthen the judiciary and accountability and seek to foster agility and transparency and access to justice for all. In other words, the reform should lead to greater equality.
On feminicide, the Supreme Court had recognized the constitutionality of this principle as established by law. A delegate explained that cases of violent death of women had to be investigated with a gender perspective.
The law required that hospitals provide abortion services to women who had been raped.
On gender parity in the judiciary, there were still challenges remaining. The Minister had tackled this issue and adopted measures such as holding two competitive examinations exclusively for women to fill magistrate and judge positions.
Turning to the public coordination body for victims, the Executive Commission for Victims Assistance, the delegation explained that the care framework had arisen from the Victims Assistance Act. There were 27,000 people listed on the victims’ registrar. Over 1 billion pesos or around 50 million dollars had been transferred to victims as a form of compensation. In 2019, support had been provided to different support units, addressing 49 cases at the federal level. There was no comprehensive policy for the assistance of victims; there were different treatments for victims whose cases were handled in the states and those who were dealt with at the federal level. There were several audits underway, which sought to examine, inter alia, the handling of public resources.
In the weeks ahead, the selection process of a new chief of the Executive Commission for Victims Assistance would hopefully come to an end. The Senate was set to act on this matter shortly.
Providing more information on violence against women, the delegation remarked that a law on this issue had been adopted in 2017. Since then, three instruments had been developed: a national instrument, articulating the three branches of government; a comprehensive programme to prevent and address violence against women, which served as the administration’s planning tool; and the gender violence urgent reporting measures, which addressed situations that required urgent interventions. Warning systems on femicide had been put in place. Various municipalities had made reports in that context.
Turning to missing persons, the delegation said the disappearances were a matter of State and, as the President had said, it was the administration’s “number one priority”. This year, the budget of the National System for Searches had been increased to 400 million pesos. Next year, if the budget that was currently being debated was approved, an additional 200 million pesos would be allocated to this body.
There were now 28 state level search commissions, and the Government was aiming to create four more, for a total of 32. There had been important efforts deployed by civil society organizations to account for the atrocities of the unmarked graves. Efforts were made to identify the 3,000 bodies found in mass graves. Since 2006, 5,000 unidentified bodies had been found.
There was a total of 40,000 disappeared people as of April 2018. The President of the Republic would soon announce a new registry, established based on the best practices from all over the world, which would help update these figures. The new system would include more information, such as age and gender of disappeared persons, thus allowing for differentiated searches. The reasons behind the disappearance of women and girls might be different from those that led to the disappearance of men. Women aged 15 to 25 accounted for 45 per cent of all disappeared persons. In Mexico, most of the disappeared persons were between the age of 15 and 25.
Efforts were also being made to improve medical forensic capacity in Mexico. A “national diagnostic” was underway to identify shortcomings and gaps. There were still 37,000 bodies that had yet to be identified. The heinous violations of human rights that were forced disappearances had been recently recognized for the first time by Mexico before international fora.
The delegation explained that following the occurrence of a natural disaster, a state of emergency was declared to, inter alia, help mobilize resources. That was why a state of emergency had been declared in Oaxaca and Chiapas.
To materialize the rights enshrined in the Covenant, such as the right to life, despite the existence of transnational organized crimes, and after parliamentary debates, the National Guard had been created. Young men were invited to join this body. This body was governed by laws drafted after debates in which the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had participated.
The National Guard was a civilian body. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and the President of Mexico had signed an agreement that governed the operation of the National Guard and allowed for cooperation with international organizations, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights chiefly.
The army only played a temporary role in ensuring security, assisting civilian bodies. Their participation was always timebound and supervised by civilians. With the adequate infrastructure and using the proper technology, training had been provided on gender equality, human rights, and international humanitarian law to over 2 million members of the army at all levels since 2013.
As per article 89 of the Constitution, the President could use the armed forces to ensure public security on the territory. This could be done for five years.
Mexico was aware of the historically disadvantaged position of women due to traditions and stereotypes. The legislation and policies promoted gender equality and the national equality programme 2019-2024 was being rolled out.
Feminicide was criminalized in all 32 federative entities. In February 2018, the National Council of Public Security had adopted an investigation protocol for the investigation of feminicide, putting a responsibility on the federal and federative authorities to open an investigation into each violent death of a woman. In 2017, there had been 776 crimes of feminicide which were open, 543 had been under trial already and 103 sentences had been handed down.
Between 2011 and 2017, the National Council against Discrimination had under its review a total of 1,075 alleged cases of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. On 17 May 2019, the Department for Foreign Affairs had declared that it would make all necessary changes to the consular procedures to allow Mexicans to marry same-sex individuals in all consulates and embassies all over the world.
The legislation on abortion was in the remit of the federative entities, while the federal policy allowed access to abortion for women and girls who were victims of sexual violence. The 2013 General Victims Law set out an obligation for each hospital to provide immediate emergency attention to the victims of a crime without any conditions, especially for victims of sexual violence. Those legislative and policy measures ensured access to abortion to victims of sexual violence throughout the country.
The reforms to the federal Labour Act and the Social Security Act ensured full access of domestic workers to social protection. A work plan on instituting a minimum wage for domestic workers had been adopted.
Although the gender pay gap had dropped by six percentage points over the last 20 years, the Mexican Government recognized that more must be done to attain equality in the labour market. The new wage policy 2018-2024 sought to recover the power purchasing parity between women and men and so address this type of inequality.
Mexico was strongly committed to non-discrimination, especially concerning groups that had been historically disenfranchised, especially Afro-Mexicans and people of African descent who in 2015 numbered 1.4 million or 2.4 per cent of the Mexican population. The National Institute of Indigenous Peoples was now in charge of defending the rights of those two groups of peoples. A survey of the Afro-Mexicans and people of African descent was ongoing to collect the data necessary for targeted policy-making. There was no standalone institute to deal with them because of budgetary reasons.
Mexico had recognized a period in its history – in the 1960s and the 1970s - during which the intelligence system of the police apparatus had been used to arbitrarily detain and execute many farmers, students, intellectuals and activists. The Places of Memory Project had been born to remember all the victims, while in September 2018, the Mexican State had expressed a public mea culpa to a survivor of the “dirty war”.
The National Search Commission had created a unit to search for the 951 disappeared victims of terrorism, which was setting up a digital database to identify specific human rights violations committed more than 50 years ago and provide compensation to victims. The Government was furthermore designing a comprehensive mechanism for the compensation of the victims of the “dirty war”, which would also serve as a forum for reconciliation on past events to enable the country to move forward.
Questions by the Committee Experts
Continuing the dialogue with the delegation of Mexico, the Committee Experts asked for an update on the reform of the criminal justice system for the period 2008-2016.
Mexico was making progress in addressing torture and ill treatment, said the Experts, noting in particular the adoption of a new act on torture in 2017, which was credited with the rejection of evidence based on torture in two cases by the Supreme Court. Mexico had also ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Torture and ill treatment occurred at very high levels in Mexico and were defined as “systematic”. There were reports that women and young people had been subjected to torture and that 80 per cent of people deprived of their liberty experienced some form of torture and ill treatment. The militarization of the police contributed to high levels of this form of violence, and most fingers were pointing towards the armed forces and law enforcement. Pre-trial detention and lack of independent visits to places of deprivation of liberty, among others, created an environment conducive to torture.
The first concern was to prevent torture and then to provide accountability for acts of torture. In this sense, the delegation was asked to inform about the national preventative mechanism and other independent institutions that were mandated with visiting detention centres. During the 2006 to 2018 period, the Attorney General had conducted over 10,000 criminal investigations into acts of torture and ill treatment, but only a small handful of people had been sentenced and many of the sentences had been reportedly turned down. In how many cases had superiors been convicted for torture committed by people under their command?
The Committee welcomed the adoption of the General Act that required the State to prohibit corporal punishment, however, parental authority was still excluded from the ban, allowing parents and others with parental authority to inflict light corporal punishment in carrying out “the right to correct”.
Migrants, especially undocumented migrants, were particularly vulnerable to trafficking, exploitation and violence, the Experts said. What was being done to protect them from those risks, particularly when it came to unaccompanied children. What measures were being taken to protect the transit zones, which were very dangerous for migrants? What was being done to investigate and punish crimes against migrants?
The Committee welcomed the announcement that “arraigo”, a house detention measure, would be abolished.
In 2014, the Committee recalled, 43 young students had disappeared in Ayotzinapa. This was an emblematic case of enforced disappearances in Mexico, and five years later, there had not been a single conviction. There were many reports of individuals deprived of their liberty, without much information.
What was being done to ensure the full independence and autonomy of the national human rights commission to guarantee that it could discharge its mandate in line with the Paris Principles?
The Committee raised concern about the lack of a central database of all persons deprived of their liberty. Was there a national registry of detained persons who had not yet appeared before the courts? Those two registers were extremely important to prevent enforced disappearances and to provide information about the whereabouts of detainees to their families. What was being done to improve the conditions of detention, especially in the light of reports of overcrowding and inadequate food?
A Committee Expert commented on the disconnect between the federal and local levels and the very progressive laws and their inadequate implementation in the field.
The Committee acknowledged the reforms to the court of military justice in 2014 which were important measures to restrict military jurisdiction in cases involving civilians. What was the status of implementation of those amendments? Were there any cases involving civilians that had not yet been transferred to civil courts?
The Committee was troubled by the developments that seemed to undermine the spirit of the 2014 amendments, which sought to remove military jurisdiction over civilians. The Expert mentioned in particular the provisions in the new Military Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Military Justice, which granted military prosecutors and judges broad powers to order the search of homes and public buildings and to listen to private telecommunications without an order from a civil judge.
Turning to the accountability of the military for human rights violations, the Expert referenced independent reports which claimed that as of 2016, the National Commission for Human Rights had received almost 10,000 complaints against the army since 2006, including more than 2,000 under the current administration. In more than 100 cases, the Commission had found that military personnel had committed serious human rights violations.
How was the military being held accountable for human rights violations that they committed; there was a need to provide justice to victims, including in closed cases, and ensure that there was no impunity in the army for human rights violations? What was being done to uproot the culture of impunity in the army and the National Guard?
The Experts welcomed the institution of the Special Prosecutor for offences committed against freedom of expression and asked the delegation to explain the State’s commitment to this mechanism, particularly in the light of important budgetary cuts. Threats against journalists represented an important concern of this Committee. Defamation was decriminalized at the federal level, but the offence still existed in the jurisdiction of eight federal states.
Responses by the Delegation
The human rights policy aimed to open up Mexico to international scrutiny and to strengthen cooperation with international human rights bodies, the delegation stressed at the beginning of this segment. Mexico was actively cooperating with other human rights treaty bodies; recently, it had engaged in a dialogue with the Committee against Torture. That was why the delegation would focus its replies to questions in the remit of the Human Rights Committee.
The Supreme Court rulings had limited the jurisdiction of military courts over civilians and it was developing an opinion on the limits of that jurisdiction. The Court had found that the crimes of homicide and sexual abuse could not be tried in military courts.
Further on military justice, the delegation said that the new Military Criminal Code had been challenged before the Supreme Court, whose decision was awaited. The Carta Magna had been reformed in 2011, while in 2014 Congress had amended article 57 of the Military Justice Code which allowed it to implement the rulings of the Inter-American Court. All of the 1,842 investigations and 344 criminal cases involving civilians that had been before military courts had been transferred to civilian courts. This transfer had been concluded in 2011 and the military court had not started a case involving a civilian since.
On the accountability of the military personnel for human rights violations, the delegation said that the military had accepted each of the 138 recommendations made by the national human rights commission during the 2013-2019 period.
The Council of the Federal Judiciary had taken important steps with regard to changes to the judiciary branch, including the confirmation of 12 new judges and magistrates.
There had been many human rights violations in Mexico, the delegation recognized, and stressed the commitment to harmonize and reform the Constitution in the matter of human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples. One example of this commitment was the abolition of an article of the Constitution allowing “arraigo”.
Arraigo, a house arrest measure, deprived a person of liberty in order to obtain information that could be used subsequently in a trial. It represented a form of arbitrary detention, whose use opened up a possibility of torture. Its abolition was bringing Mexico closer to full compliance with international human rights standards.
A proposal to amend the Children’s Code that would see a total prohibition of corporal punishment of children and adolescents in all settings was currently in the National Assembly.
Mexico was promoting a more inclusive migration policy based on the human rights of migrants. The law on refugees and political asylum introduced a concept of complementary protection for all those who did not meet the criteria of refugees, but who were nevertheless victims of torture, ill treatment and prosecution. Mexico was also one of the most ardent supporters of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. A coordination strategy on migration had been adopted on 16 October 2019.
Measures were being taken to strengthen the protection of migrants at border crossings, including through the adoption of the Protocol for the protection of unaccompanied migrant children and the Protocol for the identification of victims of human trafficking. The national human rights commission and relevant United Nations agencies had full and unfettered access to migrant centres. Federal prosecutors investigated crimes against migrants, and in some states even provided access to justice and oversaw the compensation for victims.
The national protection policy for unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents had been put in place to ensure that their particular needs were met. There were 21 child protection officers who worked throughout the territory and who had heard 9,000 cases between January and August 2019. Protocols for assistance had been drawn up with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund. Measures were being taken to ensure that unaccompanied migrant children were not housed in migrant stations.
The reform of the criminal justice system had been completed in June 2016 and allowed judges to solve the majority of cases using alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. This had reduced the costs and duration of trials. Currently, 41 federal criminal justice centres existed around the country, with 158 judges – 34 women and 134 men. In total 21 federal and 350 local laws had been amended to harmonize the procedures across the country and ensure legal certainty. The technical secretariat for the coordination council to implement the criminal justice reform carried out training activities to ensure the proper implementation of the reform.
On the rights of indigenous peoples and the right to consultation, the delegation said Mexico recognized the important role of indigenous peoples in Mexican society and the administration. The President had made clear since he took office that he recognized indigenous peoples. Mexico had been asked to recognize indigenous groups and empower them by creating specific actions. Mexico was already a party to International Labour Organization Convention 169 and was committed to carrying out prior, free and informed consent. The Supreme Court of Justice acknowledged in 2013 that indigenous communities and peoples had the right to prior consultation. The Government had registered 122 consultations and dialogues by federal institutions with indigenous peoples on development programmes, hydroelectric projects and the use of genetically modified crops. Mexico was working with standards of the International Labour Organization, the Human Rights Committee and the inter-American system.
On land tenure, this had been an issue in Mexico for many years concerning indigenous peoples. Since the Mexican revolution, Mexico had been trying to provide the land to the people to whom it belonged. Great efforts were being made, especially as many of Mexico’s social problems were related to the right to land.
The Mexican Office of Foreign Affairs was making great efforts to systematize all the recommendations that Mexico received from the Human Rights Committee and other committees. Today Mexico had more than 3,400 recommendations from the international and the inter-American systems. There were 647 recommendations related to women, 479 related to children and adolescents, 346 related to migration, 281 related to indigenous affairs, and 220 related to torture. Mexico had reported more than 2,300 actions to follow-up on these recommendations. Mexico was trying to systematize its follow-up to all recommendations.
On the penitentiary system, federally and as of 2015, there was no overpopulation in any federal prison. Mexico recognized pending challenges in state prisons. Judges ensured that prisoners were given medical attention, healthy nourishment, visits, and that they had the right to complain. Using the criminal execution law, the judiciary was in charge of monitoring the prison sentences.
Concerning the prisoner database, the federation and the federated entities uploaded all penitentiary information in an online database, with information on detainees and prisoners in the whole of Mexico. It was managed by the secretariat of public security. Preventive detention was used as an exceptional measure.
On genital mutilation of intersex persons, the delegation said that Mexico did not carry out unnecessary surgeries on intersex individuals. All surgeries that were carried out always follow the criterion on necessity.
As for human trafficking, the delegation said 25,000 civil servants had been trained on investigating and preventing trafficking in persons. Courses had also been offered to the public and there had been awareness raising programmes. At the state level, 48 convictions had been handed down and at the federal level, there had been 23. Mexico would establish four local commissions to address trafficking. The Government was implementing the national plan against trafficking in persons, aimed at bringing forth a normative framework for addressing this issue.
On torture, Mexico had drafted the first national programme against torture, together with the Office of the General Prosecutor of the Republic. This programme had six guiding principles: prevention of the crime of torture, support for investigation and prosecution, punishment, reparations, mechanisms for cooperation and coordination to fight and eradicate torture, and the creation of accountability mechanisms.
With regard to corruption, the delegation said today they could say that there was no consensual corruption in the federal government. The past election had been more than a change of administration, it had been a change of regime.
As for concern expressed about birth certificates and registration, the delegation said that the Constitution established that all individuals had the right to identity and to be registered for free at birth. A programme titled “birth certificates, where are you?” had been implemented to make the civil registrar more reliable and agile. There was a national campaign for birth registration. So far, almost six million birth certificates had been printed. This year, Mexico was also launching a new system for identity registration. Despite the efforts, recent diagnosis pointed out that there was an under-registration of births of 1 to 2.9 per cent of the total population.
On corporal punishment, in the framework of the national programme for comprehensive protection of children and adolescents, in December 2018, Mexico had launched efforts to put an end to all forms of violence against children and adolescents. It also included reparation measures so that children whose rights had been violated could have this redress.
Yesterday, the Committee Experts had mentioned the case of a Mexican journalist, who unfortunately had lost her daughter who was also a journalist during the electoral election last year. Mexico ensured the protection of journalists and human rights defenders. Arrests had been made in this case, and the prosecution was ongoing. A mechanism was in place for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists since 2012, with a budget of one billion pesos or 50 million dollars. One thousand and thirty-nine individuals had benefitted from this mechanism, 691 were human rights defenders and the rest were journalists.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had carried out an evaluation of the situation in Mexico this year over a period of five months, working on protection mechanisms, and it had issued 104 recommendations. Mexico was already in the process of implementing them. Mexico was also working with the Office on indicators which would address progress made as a result.
The first act of the new President of Mexico on 3 December 2018 was to issue a presidential decree which created a special commission to address the case of the 43 students in Ayotzinapa and determine their whereabouts.
A Committee Expert asked about the situation of children in prison with their mothers, requesting more information. On journalists, another Expert said that so far in 2019, 12 journalists had been killed in Mexico, and a civil society organization had called Mexico the deadliest country in the world for journalists. The number for human rights defenders was also high.
MARTA DELGADO PERALTA, Under-Secretary for International Affairs and Human Rights at the Secretariat of International Affairs of Mexico, thanked the Committee for allowing the delegation to share Mexico’s efforts to fully implement all rights in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Mexico still faced a great many challenges and there was still a long road before it to improve compliance with these rights. The delegation had talked with great transparency and openness. Mexico had a robust legal framework and solid institutions. Mexico would continue to work with the inter-American system and with the United Nations system to evolve an effective national framework and platform to address the more than 3,400 recommendations as a matter of priority. She thanked civil society for contributing with their shadow reports, which would help bring about a fairer Mexico.
AHMED AMIN FATHALLAH, Committee Chairperson, said it had been a constructive dialogue, and the Committee welcomed Mexico’s cooperation with United Nations organs and offices. He welcomed what had been stated by the delegation that the issue of disappeared persons was a number one priority, and measures to deal with discrimination, including against women. He requested more information about the harmonization between federal and state levels, the state of emergency, and the disappearance of 43 students, among others.
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