According to a report [report, Spanish] issued by Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission [official website, Spanish], 22 civilians were executed during a May 2015 drug raid in Michoacan. The report states that among the 43 individuals killed during the drug-bust, including one police officer, 22 civilians died as a result of “arbitrary execution,” and an additional four were killed from “excessive use of force.” While Mexican authorities continue to say the civilians were killed during the gunfight, the human rights commission maintains that the deaths were a result of human rights violations, and said that police placed guns next to 16 bodies in an attempt to substantiate these false claims. The human rights watchdog also found that the Michoacan Attorney General’s Office was at fault for mishandling the ballistics evidence. The country’s National Security Commission continues to support [LAHT report] the actions of the police, saying “[t]he the use of arms was necessary and the police acted…in legitimate defense.”
Mexico has received criticism from multiple human rights organizations for its handling of human rights abuses, as forced disappearances and military violence have come to international attention. In May the UN called upon [JURIST report] Mexico to investigate human rights violations following the death of 22 people, including at least 12 summary executions. In April three UN human rights experts pleaded [JURIST report] with Mexican authorities to support human rights groups facing extreme criticism in the national media. In 2015 Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [press release] that there is evidence of recent unlawful police killings in Mexico. The report suggested that police action which left eight civilians dead in the city of Apatzingán on January 6, and 42 civilians and one police officer dead in Tanhuato on May 22 was an “excessive use of force against unarmed civilians.” That same year, the Miguel Agustin Pro human rights center [official website] in Mexico announced that there is evidence that high-ranking Mexican officers gave soldiers orders to kill criminals prior to an army mass slaying of suspected cartel members in June 2014. In 2013 the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns [official website], urged Mexico’s government [JURIST report] to better protect against human rights abuses, specifically with respect to the military’s use of force against civilians.