[JURIST] Mexican activists on Friday filed a complaint in the International Criminal Court [official website] asking the court to investigate alleged human rights violations by the army and police resulting from the attack on drug cartels initiated by Mexican President Felipe Calderon [official website, Spanish]. The activists claim that, in addition to the nearly 470 cases of human rights abuses perpetrated by the government, Mexican drug lords have also committed crimes against humanity [AP report] since 2006, including an estimated 40,000 deaths. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a cartel leader, is also named as a defendant in the complaint. The Mexican Department of the Interior released a statement in response to the complaint, denying involvement in human rights violations [press release, in Spanish]:
The Federal Government strongly rejects that security policy may constitute an international crime. The actions of the National Security Strategy are deployed with full respect for the rule of law, to stop the activity of criminal organizations, to bring their members to justice and prevent the violence and insecurity they generate. If it had not been for the strength shown from the start of the administration, many families in various communities across the country would be at the mercy of criminals.
The government also stated that filing a complaint with the ICC was the “wrong way” to “fight crime and impunity,” and that the activists should first proceed with their complaint through the national criminal justice system.
This is not the first time the security forces have been accused of committing rights abuses. Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report [text, PDF] indicating that Mexican security forces have committed widespread rights abuses [JURIST report], such as torture and forced disappearances, in combating organized crime. In August, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission [official website, in Spanish] issued a report [text, PDF, in Spanish] contending that military and law enforcement officials routinely conducted illegal searches [JURIST report]. 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. 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.