Victims' Rights Caucus

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Lawmakers ask for State Department to enact benchmarks for success

 

Washington, DC ñ Congressmen Jim Moran (D-VA) and Ted Poe (R-TX) spearheaded a bipartisan group of 23 lawmakers in sending a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry calling on the United States to prioritize human rights in our bilateral agenda with Mexico. The letter comes in advance of President Obamaís trip to Mexico on May 2, 2012.

Joining Rep. Moran in writing Secretary Kerry were Representatives Tim Bishop, Sam Farr (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Hank Johnson (D-GA), John Carter (R-TX), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), John Lewis (D-GA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Bill Foster (D-IL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ed Blumenauer (D-OR), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), and Danny Davis (D-IL).

ìNow is an opportune moment to work with the Mexican government to improve the situation in that country,î wrote the lawmakers. ìWe are encouraged by President Enrique PeÒa Nietoís strong statements affirming his commitment to human rights and we believe they provide the United States with an important opening to raise our concerns with the Mexican government. We believe that a measurable increase in the number of cases of abuses that are investigated and prosecuted in civilian jurisdiction should be a key benchmark by which the State Department assesses the progress made by the PeÒa Nieto government on human rights.î

In the letter, the lawmakers highlighted the persistent human rights violations in Mexico, including:

  • Failure to reform Mexicoís Military Code of Justice to ensure human rights abuses by the military against civilians are tried in civilian court;
  • 400 percent increase in reports of torture by the Mexican military to obtain confessions;
  • Failure to implement protection measures mandated under the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists; and
  • More than 26,000 disappearances, more than 2,000 of which involved federal authorities

The lawmakers continued: ìThe human rights crisis will not improve until there are stronger legal protections, increased human rights training for Mexicoís security forces, and more government agents held responsible for the human rights violations they commit.î

"It is a sad reality that grave human rights issues persist in Mexico," said Jennifer Johnson, Senior Associate for Mexico and Border Policy at the Latin America Working Group (LAWG). "This letter is a strong statement from Members of the U.S. Congress that advancing human rights and accountabi