John McCain’s great timing

John McCain, the presumptive U.S Republican presidential candidate, couldn’t have timed his trip to Latin America better. Not only does he fly into Colombia a day before 6-year hostage of the FARC Ingrid Betancourt is liberated, he then rides into Mexico City this morning days after the Merida Initiative gets approved in El Norte.

Some of that great timing is pure coincidence – some not. Continue reading

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

Severe human rights problems persist in Mexico: US State Department

The headline might be stating the obvious, but for the record, according to the 2007 country report from the US State department, released this week:

‘The [Mexican] government generally respected and promoted human rights at the national level by investigating, prosecuting, and sentencing public officials and members of the security forces. However, impunity and corruption remained problems, particularly at the state and local level. The following human rights problems were reported: unlawful killings by security forces; kidnappings, including by police; physical abuse; poor and overcrowded prison conditions; arbitrary arrests and detention; corruption, inefficiency, and lack of transparency in the judicial system; confessions coerced through physical abuse permitted as evidence in trials; criminal intimidation of journalists leading to self-censorship; corruption at all levels of government; domestic violence against women, often perpetrated with impunity; violence, including killings, against women; trafficking in persons, sometimes allegedly with official involvement; social and economic discrimination against indigenous people; and child labor.

Read the full report here.

Rights group attacks impunity in Mexico

article19The limited attempts of the Mexican Government to tackle the high levels of violence against journalists testifies ‘to the inability or unwillingness of the Mexican authorities to make the fight against impunity,’ according to Article19, the freedom of expression NGO.

Dr. Agnes Callamard, executive director of the group, said in a statement that the impunity enjoyed by those responsible for violence against journalists is ‘one of the most alarming characteristics of the overall human rights situation in Mexico’.

Mexico is still the deadliest country in the Americas for journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders. Continue reading

Mexican Human Rights Commission is ineffective, says report

Human Rights Watch released a damning report today, calling Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission ‘ineffective’ and ‘disappointing’.

‘When it comes to actually securing remedies and promoting reforms to improve Mexico’s dismal human rights record, the CNDH’s performance has been disappointing,’ reads the report, which also points out that the Commission’s failures hasn’t been due to a lack of funding. Continue reading

Despite the violence, Mexican authorities stay silent

Despite the murder of three journalists last week, the developing trend of self-censorship amongst the media and the fleeing of one journalist from the country to save his life, both the Mexican Administration and the country’s national Human Rights Commission have remained silent on the issue of press freedom and violence against journalists. Continue reading

New Year, Old Problems for Journalists in Mexico

Although one hates to be a pessimist, the coming year is still looking grim for journalists in Mexico.

Despite the fact that the numbers of murdered journalists declined last year, levels of violence against them are on the rise and the Government is showing no increase in willingness to investigate cases of murder, violence and intimidation against members of the profession. Continue reading