Mexican President on Trial?

15 Oct

Well, he certainly deserves to be.

Now, a group of lawyers and human rights defenders in Mexico has brought an accusation of war crimes to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. While this may not seem all that surprising, what is both amazing and courageous is that they have added the name of President Felipe Calderón to the suit against the nation’s drug cartels as well. And not just Calderón, but his chiefs of policing and public security too.

At a press conference last week, the participating lawyers explained that the ever more untenable situation of violence is as much the fault of organized criminals as it is of what they call Mexico’s “structural impunity.” And taking into consideration that only 12 percent of crimes are denounced and even less – just eight percent – investigated, the entire policing and justice system is failing the citizens who pay for it.

Meanwhile, the violence has claimed more than 50,000 lives and caused the displacement of 230,000 people, according to their press release. Another 10,000 people are considered ‘disappeared.’ No wonder that they can therefore claim that “Mexico is living a state of emergency and going through the most dramatic humanitarian crisis of recent history.”

And certainly my own research, carried out for several articles in the past, bears this out. Mexico doesn’t have the slightest capability of effectively dealing with, seeking out and investigating criminals, much less of properly bringing them to trial. Its judicial system is as corrupt as it is inefficient, with thousands of people in prison even though they have committed no crime, and thousands more at large even though they are constantly kidnapping, extorting and murdering people, and shipping huge amounts of illegal drugs.

It is probably six of seven years ago already that the Mexican congress passed a judicial reform act. But as Autonomous National University of Mexico law professor John Mills Ackerman explained to me last year, the executive branch hasn’t implemented any meaningful improvements at all. (It was given a period of eight years to do so, and that time period is almost up.)

So I hope the ICC takes the matter seriously and does set up some form of investigation into the behaviour of the Mexican government. I have believed for a long time that Calderon’s so-called war against the drug dealers has been flawed from the start – and is clearly useless. The big question therefore is whether this has been on purpose, or because he is an idiot.

In future posts, I will probably re-publish some of the information I worked on in the recent past that illustrates this sorry state of affairs. In the meantime, Occupy Wall Street has spread to Toronto today and I have to go and check that out.

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