Helping Mexico and Human Rights

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Last week's news of possible torture training in a Mexican police unit ["Videos of Violent Police Training Appear as Mexico Awaits U.S. Aid," news story, July 2] underscores the need for careful monitoring of human rights progress as Mexico prepares to receive aid from the United States to fight drug cartels.

The good news is that a portion of the funding under the Merida Initiative will be released only if the U.S. secretary of state reports that Mexico bars the use of testimony that has been obtained through torture -- a policy that is in line with Mexican law but that all too often is not observed.

U.S. law governing the Mexico funding also stipulates that civilian prosecutors and judicial authorities investigate and, if the evidence warrants, prosecute abuses by federal police and the military, rather than these cases being investigated only by military authorities.

And U.S. law on the initiative also requires consultation between Mexican governmental authorities and civil society organizations, so that the civil groups can make recommendations on how the initiative is implemented.

The human rights mandates in the Merida Initiative are clear, and the "torture videos" are, sadly, a perfect reminder that U.S. and Mexican lawmakers must vigilantly monitor the program and ensure that the terms of the aid package are met.

RENATA RENDÓN

Americas Advocacy Director

Amnesty International

Washington


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