Watchdog: Mexican Army's Abuse of Civilians Unchecked

Desperate to fight the cartels, government turns a blind eye to military crimes
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2009 1:46 PM CDT
Federal police wearing protective masks guard an armored vehicle carrying a suspected drug-cartel boss Wednesday in Mexico City.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – The Mexican army, enlisted by President Felipe Calderón in the battle against drug cartels, is abusing civilians with de facto immunity from the government, a watchdog group says. The army was supposed to be a temporary replacement for corrupt or incompetent police forces. But some soldiers, unaccustomed to the nuances of policing, have abused their power, terrorizing civilians and criminals alike, the Economist reports.

Human Rights Watch investigated incidents involving 70 victims—with no ties to cartels—who were beaten, tortured, raped, and killed by the military. Mexico’s human-rights commission is aware of many of the cases, but it is neutered by the administration. The military courts that try soldiers treat their crimes as disciplinary issues, deliver secret verdicts, and, to Human Rights Watch’s knowledge, have convicted no one.