Washington, DC—On Tuesday, November 7, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) will release the report, “Overlooking Justice: Human Rights Violations Committed by Mexican Soldiers against Civilians are Met with Impunity.” This is the first analysis of its kind as it examines human rights violations committed by soldiers that have been investigated and prosecuted by Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR).
The result of 11 months of research, the report is based on interviews with federal authorities, human rights organizations, and lawyers who have represented victims of military abuse. The report will also publish data—which has previously never been made public or compiled in a comprehensive way—on investigations, trials, and sentences of soldiers obtained through over 15 freedom of information requests to the PGR and to Mexico’s Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of the Navy, and Federal Judiciary. The report also provides a series of recommendations to improve investigations into military abuse via civilian rather than military courts, and to bring justice to victims in these cases.
Additionally, the report examines the PGR’s persistent failure to investigate the officers responsible for ordering rank-and-file soldiers to commit abuses against civilians. The vast majority of investigations into military abuse concern low-ranking soldiers, and based on the records analyzed by WOLA, there have been virtually no civilian prosecutions of high-ranking military officials for issuing abusive orders. In collaboration with several Mexican journalists who produced “Chain of Command”, an investigative journalism project based on interviews with soldiers who have participated in violent confrontations with civilians, WOLA analyzed how soldiers experience these confrontations, what orders and obedience mean to them, and what leads them to kill “the enemy.”