Mexico’s fight against drug traffickers generated a sixfold increase in human rights complaints against the Mexican military between 2006 and 2008, and it is unclear that any complaint resulted in prosecutions, says a State Department report quoted by the Houston Chronicle. The report was delivered to Congress under the Merida Initiative, a $1.4 billion program providing equipment and training to Mexican security forces. It calls for 15 percent of the money to be withheld until the State Department verifies that the government is meeting four human rights requirements, including the prosecution of police officers and soldiers responsible for abuses.
While the State Department cited several examples of progress, it was hardly a glowing endorsement. A key Democratic senator said the report failed to address the concerns about impunity within the Mexican military that led him to threaten to hold up millions of dollars in U.S. assistance. “It is well known that the military justice system is manifestly ineffective,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, which must approve the Merida assistance. “And it is apparent that neither the Mexican government nor the State Department has treated human rights abuses by the military, which is engaging in an internal police function it is ill suited for, as a priority.”