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HRW: Mexico government should investigate military shootout

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Friday called on [HRW report] the Mexican government to fully investigate the killing of 22 civilians by soldiers on June 30, following an alleged confrontation inside an empty warehouse in the municipality of Tlatlaya. All civilians involved in the incident were killed, while one soldier was injured. Credible witness reports have cast doubt on the news release and other official accounts of the incident [BBC report], suggesting that the soldiers may have used excessive force. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] visited the site and has also expressed concern with the official account [AP report], noting that they did not find signs of stray bullets of the type that would be left by soldiers shooting automatic weapons from a distance.

Last year Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged Mexican lawmakers to reform the nation's military justice system to combat human rights abuses committed by army and navy personnel. Also last year AI called on the Mexican government to investigate the disappearances [JURIST report] of thousands of people and acknowledge the government's involvement in the disappearances. AI's report stated 26,121 people were reported disappeared or missing between December 2006 and December 2012, but 40 percent of the cases were not investigated. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns urged [JURIST report] Mexico's government to better protect against human rights abuses, particularly with respect to the military's use of force against civilians. Earlier that year HRW reported [JURIST report] that Mexican security forces have enforced or participated in widespread "disappearances" in which individuals are taken against their will.

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