UN human rights experts reports human rights abuses in Mexican crackdown on Oaxaca

31 October 2006 –

An independent United Nations human rights expert has expressed concern about reports of serious abuses, including murder, perpetrated by a paramilitary group taking place amid the Mexican Government’s efforts to regain control of the city Oaxaca where protestors have run parts of the city for the past five months.

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Dr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, said in a statement he has received reports of human rights violations “including the killing and wounding by gunfire of innocent victims, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, illegal searches and breaches of due process.”

The incidents are reported to have taken place on 27 October in Oaxaca and neighbouring towns and left 4 dead and several others wounded.

“The Special Rapporteur is extremely concerned with the use of force to counter protests arising from deeply entrenched social issues and recommends the Federal and State authorities to fully comply, at all times, with Mexico's international human rights commitments,” the statement said.

Dr. Stavenhagen called on the Mexican authorities to investigate the violence, and to prosecute those responsible, according to international standards. He also appealed to both the Federal and state Governments to continue to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict, and to refrain from any further action that could block negotiations.

He also called on the Popular Assembly of Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) and other social organizations involved in the protests “to continue promoting dialogue between all the parties involved, in the search for a peaceful and negotiated solution to their various demands, and to avoid violent confrontations.”

In a report on a mission to Mexico in 2003, he recommended that the Mexican Government “should take urgent steps to disband, disarm and punish armed paramilitary or civilian groups that are operating in indigenous regions."

He also recommended that "the federal and State judiciary and the national system of ombudsmen should ensure that legislation and justice are not used in the interests of caciques and local authorities to treat legitimate protest or social dissent as a crime or penalize it.”

Special Rapporteurs are unpaid independent advisory experts with a mandate from the Human Rights Council who also make periodic reports to the General Assembly.

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