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Mexico human rights body alleges regular police misconduct

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission [official website, in Spanish] on Friday released a report [text, PDF, in Spanish] contending that military and law enforcement officials routinely conduct illegal searches in their efforts to combat the country's narcotics trade. The report describes a "systematic pattern" of coercive, threatening and physically abusive behavior, often accompanied by property damage, theft and evidence tampering. Documented complaints of human rights violations allegedly committed by authorities rose from 234 in 2006 to 964 in 2008, the same year a law was enacted easing requirements for search warrants. Per the report's projections, such complaints are expected to surpass 1,000 by the close of this year.

Following the April resignation [JURIST report] of former Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chavez, the Attorney General's Office (PGR) [official website] last month charged [JURIST report] 111 officials who served under Chavez with various corruption-related offenses, including falsifying documents, interfering with the administration of justice, abuse of power, perjury and bribery. Additionally, 140 police officers were fired and it was disclosed that 280 more are under investigation. Mexico has struggled to combat the drug cartels' influence on the government and the country as a whole. There have been more than 27,000 drug-related deaths [STRATFOR report] since 2006, and the violence has steadily escalated over the past few years. In April 2009, Mexico's Senate passed a constitutional amendment [JURIST report] permitting the seizure of suspected drug traffickers' property prior to their conviction. In 2008, a former assistant attorney general was arrested for receiving bribes, and Mexico's prosecutor's office admitted that it had been infiltrated [JURIST reports] by the drug cartels.

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