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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

USD Trans-Border Institute report faults Mexican military on rights abuses

In Tijuana, general in charge of Baja California named person of year by Grupo 21; base under command of that general comes under harsh criticism in report

Institute recommends that military turn over suspects to appropriate authorities more quickly and that it better train personnel on how to treat civilians

armed with impunity coverThe Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, in a report released Tuesday, faulted the Mexican military on human rights abuses. "Armed Impunity: Curbing Military Human Rights Abuses in Mexico" found that human rights abuses by the military has gone up as the military was taken out of the barracks to play a major role in President Felipe Calderón's fight against drug traffickers.

The Trans-Border Institute led off its report with a case where the military apparently committed human rights violations against more than 20 Tijuana police in 2009, when Gen. Alfonso Duarte Múgica headed the Second Military Zone.

Duarte, who now heads the Second Military Region, which encompasses Tijuana, was named person of the year Monday by the Grupo 21 breakfast group.

In late 2009, the Tijuana newsweekly Zeta named Duarte and then Tijuana police chief Julián Leyzaola as persons of the year for their efforts to curtail violence in the city.

The Trans-Border Institute report made the following recommendations:
• Reduce overall reliance on military deployments in Mexican counter-drug
• Invest in greater human rights training for military and judicial sector personnel.
• Implement reforms to transfer all military abuse cases to civilian courts.
• Bolster the National Human Rights Commission so that it can better monitor and perhaps bring charges against the military for human rights abuses.
• Strengthen civil society to combat abuses and improve security.
• Reframe U.S.-Mexico security collaboration to better protect human rights.

Armed with Impunity report figures 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 as of May 3, 2012 2012 if trend continues
Written complaints against Mexican army 367 1,230 1,800 1,415 1,626 479 1,425


Duarte, in accepting the person of the year award Monday, said his job could not be done without the help of Tijuana residents whose tips have led to a large number of arrests. "When we are united and join our efforts, there is no challenge that society cannot meet," Frontera newspaper quoted him as saying.
Update, Aug. 1: Tip that marjuana is being unloaded in broad daylight from a boat at the Esteban Cantú community south of Ensenada brings about capture of ton of marijuana, arrest of Marco Polo Soto Quintero, 30. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.

Among those attending the event honoring Duarte was Mayor Carlos Bustamante, who been strongly supportive of the military presence in Baja California. He decided not to keep Leyzaola on as police chief; Leyzaola then moved on to become police chief in Ciudad Juárez, where violence has come down.

New Trans-Border Institute report, "Armed with Impunity: Curbing Military Human Rights Abuses in Mexico."
Story on Grupo 21 award to Gen. Alfonso Duarte Múgica, Frontera (PDF).

September 2011 story on conflict between Duarte and a top state official who has since resigned.