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Mexicans: Dying for justice

April 26, 2018

Drug wars and crime are tearing Mexico apart. In recent years, more than 200,000 people have been murdered, tortured or simply disappeared without a trace.

Mexiko Drogenkrieg vermisste Kinder
Image: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

The responsibility lies not only with the drug cartels, but also with the police and armed forces. Three human rights activists collect testimony on the atrocities for submission to the International Criminal Court.

Mexiko Drogenkrieg
Image: AP

Drug wars and crime have left their scars on the Mexican population. Since former President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) declared war on drug smugglers shortly after his election, violence in the country has escalated dramatically. Within ten years, 200,000 people have been murdered, tortured, abducted or displaced.

With assistance from the families of victims and from local associations, Jose Guevara, Michael Chamberlin and Ariana Garcia have for years been collecting testimony and evidence of these crimes under the auspices of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) - crimes that they lay not only at the door of the drug mafias but also of the army and police.

Impunity and corruption are omnipresent in Mexico: 98 percent of such crimes are never cleared up. Since 2002, the International Criminal Court has been dealing with war crimes and crimes against humanity that are not indicted in their country of origin. The Mexican victims and their families have great hopes for this supranational entity - but complicated statutes govern its role and the way it functions.

Niederlande Den Haag Gerichtsvollzieherin Fatou Bensouda beim Fall Jean-Pierre Bemba
Fatou Bensouda Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Lampen

The activists must persuade chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and her chief analyst Emeric Rogier to open an investigation and declare the crimes as crimes against humanity. An international investigation would be the ideal means to pressure Mexico to put a stop to the infiltration of state institutions by organized crime and hold those responsible to account. But there’s still a long way to go. And the climate of violence in Mexico isn’t likely to change overnight.


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