U.S. State Department Releases Report on Mexico’s Human Rights Issues

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On Monday, March 20, the U.S. Department of State released its 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, analyzing the current status of human rights in countries across the world – including Mexico, which according to the report, possesses “significant problems” surrounding human rights, impunity, femicides, human trafficking and freedom of expression.

“Impunity and extremely low prosecution rates continued to be a problem for all crimes, including human rights abuses and corruption,” stated the U.S. Department of State on the situation in Mexico.

The U.S. Department of State noted that many of Mexico’s human rights issues stem from the country’s prominent organized drug-trafficking groups, who have purportedly been behind a significant portion of the homicides, extortions, kidnappings and human-trafficking incidents experienced throughout the nation, though the Mexican government has failed to follow through on holding the large majority of these perpetrators accountable for their crimes.

“The government investigated and prosecuted some of these crimes, but most remained uninvestigated and unprosecuted,” read the report.

The enmeshment of the Mexican Armed Forces in Mexico’s daily violence was also highlighted by the State Department, especially considering the growing number of military human rights abuse reports across the last several years – including the controversial executions of five youths by military personnel in the northern Mexico border town of Nuevo Laredo just last month.

The report likewise issued a warning about the continued disappearance of Mexican citizens in areas with heavy cartel activity, characterizing the Mexican government’s monitoring system of disappearances such as these as inefficient.

“Federal and state databases on disappearances are incomplete and have problems sharing information,” said the State Department. “Forensic systems are highly fragmented between the local, state and federal levels, and the volume of unsolved cases is far greater than they are capable of investigating.”

On the matter of freedom of speech, the U.S. Department of State said that while Mexico’s media is abundant and active, many self-censor in fear of retribution from the state or organized crime groups. 

This has become exacerbated in recent years given the integration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) journalist-lambasting segment into his his daily morning press conferences once a week, with the State Department saying the status of freedom of expression in Mexico “worsened from June 2021, with the introduction of the ‘Who’s who in the lies of the week‘ section of the president’s morning press conference that’s used to expose journalists who allegedly spread false news.”

The report went on to cite data from the National Search Commission (CNB) revealing that there are more than 108,521 missing persons in Mexico as of December 2022, with the U.S. Department of State noting that the Mexican government had put forth effort to solve crimes surrounding disappearances tied to the state, as in its recent endeavors in the case of the missing Ayotzinapa students.

To conclude its 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices on Mexico, the U.S. Department of State highlighted Mexico’s lack of laws surrounding internal displacement, sharing that between 250,000 and 380,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Mexico, mainly due to the effects of organized crime groups’ operations.

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