Amnesty International Criticizes Mexico's Human Rights Record

Amnesty International Secretary-General Irene Khan is urging the Mexican government to "walk its talk" concerning human rights.

Amnesty International has held a public forum in Mexico City for political parties, to convince them to ingrain human rights as a cornerstone of the political agenda in the ongoing presidential election campaign. Amnesty Secretary-General Irene Khan insists that the people of Mexico are demanding concrete actions and not just promises.

"Mexico has made the promise of human rights, it has adopted international obligations, it is very loud and vocal on human rights protection abroad. It has to bring that human rights promise home," she said.

Ms. Khan has also just visited Mexico' northern border area, close to the United States, to assess if there has been any substantive progress in resolving the murders of young women. More than 300 have been killed in and around Juarez, during the last decade.

She says the mothers of the murdered are now doubtful justice will ever be done.

"There is no confidence among the mothers about the intention of the government both at state level and at the federal level, because these are women who have been waiting ten years for justice," she said. "Many of them have been treated very despicably by the previous administration in Chihuahua State. They simply don't believe things will change and the recent spate of killings of course seems to reinforce their fears, so there is a huge challenge on the new state government in Chihuahua to do more. There is also a challenge for President Fox's administration, because the promises that he has made and what the federal authorities have been able to deliver- there is a huge gap between the two."

Following a highly critical report issued by Amnesty concerning Mexican authorities' handling of the Juarez murders, two years ago, Mexican President Vicente Fox did take action. Ms. Khan has praised him for appointing a special commissioner and a special prosecutor to deal with the Juarez murders. But she stresses that the myth of criminal impunity, or "getting away with it," has yet to be fully overcome there, and in the rest of Mexico.