Conflict & Justice

Drugs and human rights in Mexico

Mexico's human rights envoy is one of many worried about the army's role in fighting drug cartels. He says there have been severe human rights violations. Last year, four soldiers were jailed for rape while 367 claims were filed against the army for human rights violations. The army says that's a small number given that 30,000 soldiers are operating in some of Mexico's most violent areas. A new task force was created to investigate such human rights claims against the army. This UN official says human rights violations will continue if the army continues to engage in what is traditionally police activity. A Human Rights Watch report recently talked about the widespread use of torture in police activity, court officials, and some army soldiers. Calderon says his soldiers have always respected human rights and the police would replace the army in such work as soon as they were purified. This army commander says human rights abuses are minimal and when they do occur, reprisal is swift. He says drug cartels make false allegations to lower the army's prestige. Polls show the church and the army are among Mexico's most revered institutions, and some analysts fear the army's prestige will drop if this treatment continues. The army is aware that risk exists.