Latin America promotes but doesn’t respect human rights

Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico have been strong on promoting human rights internationally and in supporting the UN human rights machinery during 2007.

But unless the gap between their policies internationally and their performance at home is closed their credibility as human rights champions will be challenged, according to this week’s report from Amnesty International on human rights around the world.

You can access the report here and click on the links at the top for specific country reports. Continue reading

‘Innocent until proven guilty’ to underlie Mexican justice system

Sweeping overhauls to Mexico’s criminal trial system announced last week could bring the country into the modern world, according to the Financial Times. People suspected of crimes will be presumed innocent until proved guilty, according to the reforms backed by President Felipe Calderon.

‘For the first time – and assuming that a majority of the country’s 31 local legislatures approves the constitutional change – defendants will be presumed innocent until proved guilty. Trials will become open and more transparent, with judges and lawyers having to work in public and under the scrutiny of the media.’

amnesty.gifBut according to human rights groups, some of the elements of the reforms threaten to undermine human rights by allowing prosecutors to enforce house-arrest on suspects or to put suspects in jail before they’re charged.

Alberto Herrera, executive director of , said: “We want the judicial system to be efficient but this can mean permission to violate human rights.” Continue reading

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro on the Dangers for Journalists in Mexico

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro is a Mexican journalist who was imprisoned and tortured after publishing a book on a child pornography and prostitution ring in the country.

In her 2004 book, Los Demonios del Eden: el poder detras de la pornografia infantile (The Demons of Eden: the power behind child pornography), Cacho claimed there were links between the pedophile ring and a number of government officials, politicians, businessmen and drug traffickers in Mexico.

The publications of the book prompted repeated threats against her life and judicial harassment, and on December 16, 2005, Cacho was arrested and denied access to her lawyer and medicine. She spent the night in prison and was then released on bail of $9,900.

Amnesty International
, who has recognized Cacho for her journalistic work towards upholding human rights, says that in response to the intimidation tactics, Cacho filed a counter-suit for corruption and for violation of her human rights. She thus became the first woman in Mexico to file a federal suit against a governor, district attorney and a judge for corruption and attempted rape in prison. caught up with her at a recent Amnesty International press conference and spoke to her about her views on the current climate for journalists working in Mexico, recently rated the second-most dangerous country for journalists to work in after Iraq by Reporters Without Borders.