Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Human Rights Group Criticizes Mexico's Military HUMAN RIGHTS IN MEXICO

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Human Rights Group Criticizes Mexico's Military HUMAN RIGHTS IN MEXICO

Article excerpt

A UNITED STATES group that has worked with Mexico's official human rights commission is accusing the country's military of conducting arbitrary searches, detentions, interrogations, and torture of indigenous people. The Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights is also lambasting the blue-ribbon National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) for absolving the military of wrongdoing.

"{The} lawless practices of the Mexican military have become increasingly tolerated at the highest levels of Mexican government," says the Minnesota Advocates. But the CNDH's director disputes the group's findings.

The Minnesota human rights monitoring group has worked closely with Mexican human rights groups, including the CNDH, for several years. But this is the first time Minnesota Advocates has criticized the work of the CNDH.

Following the CNDH, the Minnesota group investigated incidents that occurred in October 1992 in the state of Chihuahua and in March, April, and May of this year in Chiapas state.

In Chihuahua, the Oct. 17 murder of an Army officer involved in an antidrug campaign triggered a military "rampage" against the indigenous Tepehuan residents. Homes and crops were burned, and residents were detained, interrogated, and beaten in the search for the killer. In late May, the Army responded to two "guerrilla" attacks on soldiers by searching several villages and detaining 10 civilians.

The CNDH admits some civilians were "physically mistreated," but a medical report (commissioned by the police) shows no signs of torture. Minnesota Advocates alleges the Tepehuans were forced to ingest water and suffered mock executions with unloaded weapons. They say these actions would not leave physical aftereffects.

The Minnesota human rights group charges the CNDH with failing to investigate allegations of torture in Chihuahua and Chiapas, and for excusing the Army of any human rights violations.

"The CNDH gives a green light to the Army to plan and facilitate large-scale detentions and searches among the civilian population as long as they are careful enough to bring along a few police officers," the report says. …

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