This press release was in response to the Mexican Government's response to the report by Special Rapporteur, Asma Jahangir, Commission on Human Rights, 56th SessionAgenda Item 11 (b), Civil and Political Rights, Including Questions of: Disappearances and Summary Executions.

Although we have our own set of questions regarding her report that we intend to pursue, this was specifically in response to claims by the Mexican government that we considered to be unfounded.    
--Lydia Brazon

Press Release

April 7, 2000 (Revised April 8, 2000)


International Education Development/Humanitarian Law Project is shocked at the blatant misrepresentations that are found in the Mexico Delegationıs response before the 56th Session of the Commission of Human Rights to Asma Jahangirıs report on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in that country.

We are taken aback by the Delegationıs assertion that her report demonstrated "a lack of balance and objectivity," and that her findings should be effectively disregarded because, as the Mexican delegation stated, she "went outside of her mandate."

On the first point, we believe that Jahangirıs report was an earnest and honest attempt to conduct extensive interviews with spokespeople from all sides of the many conflicts from which Mexico is suffering.

On the second point, that she "went outside of her mandate," it seems that the Mexican Delegation believes that addressing anything but the most basic facts of extrajudicial executions (which are horrific enough on their own) is going outside of the mandate; that is, Janhangir was not to address either the causes or the consequences of the extrajudicial actions and impunity that she was sent to investigate.

As the Delegation stated, "It doesnıt correspond to the Rapporteurıs mandate to speculate about electoral processes nor about the functions that the constitution assigns to the armed forces." But these correspond very specifically to her mandate, as she made clear in her written report. First, perhaps the most important factor in ridding Mexico of the impunity with which its security forces operate is a deepening of democracy, which relies heavily on an open electoral process. Second, the performance of policing duties by the armed forces, due to the non-transparent and closed nature of the military justice system, can only lead to greater impunity for human rights abusers.

Finally, there is the last and most outrageous statement in the Delegationıs response to Jahangir. They refer to the death threats received by the workers in Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Prodh) in Mexico City. To quote, "the case to which I refer does not form a violation of the human rights of these defenders. The indications are that it deals with a common crime that the competent authorities will attend to in conformity with the law."

The latest death threats received by Centro Prodh stated, "They want to see, you sons of bitches, if your foreign accomplices want to continue to be in solidarity maybe yes, maybe no, weıll test?" In addition, when Digna Ochoa of Prodh was kidnapped, she was interrogated for nine hours about her organizationıs links with guerrilla groups in the state of Guerrero. These are both clearly cases of persecution of human rights defenders, even if the Mexican delegation refuses to recognize it.

For the Mexican Delegation to mischaracterize the case in question like this is both disingenuous and a frightening signal that Mexico refuses to recognize the fact that human rights defenders are in grave danger. In the open hostility the Mexican government has demonstrated towards Prodh, we see the consequences of Ernesto Zedilloıs statement in January that "we donıt need the self-designated representatives of Civil Society, who now refer to themselves as ŒNGOsı, to speak in the name of the poor." We hope that this aggression towards human rights defenders will not characterize the establishment of the Program for Technical Cooperation between Mexico and the UNHCHR as well.