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And, speaking of crimes against humanity…

11 February 2009

Nacha Cattan, in this morning’s The [Mexico City] News (links may only access front page) reports that

A majority of the nation´s Supreme Court justices said Tuesday that authorities seriously violated human rights in a 2006 crackdown on protests in San Salvador Atenco.

Ten of the nation´s 11 high court justices said “grave violations” occurred at Atenco, but whether the high court will single out top officials for their role in the attacks remains to be seen; the justices have yet to make their final vote and have yet to deliberate on the issue of responsibility.

The Supreme Court began reviewing Monday a report submitted by one of the justices that found functionaries who ordered the police action in May 2006 “permitted” and even “encouraged” the abuses.

The report named State of Mexico Gov. Enrique Peña Nieto and Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora – then public security secretary – among thousands of police and government officials who played a role in the violations.

The only “minister-justice” to dissent from the finding was Sergio Salvador Aguirre, “who failed to see evidence of grave violations,” and ” said police had acted on the people´s behalf.”

Aguirre is sort of the odd man person (two of the justices are women) out, having a different background than the others, and one of the few openly partisan justices on the court.   Back in August, as the court considered Mexico City’s abortion laws, I wrote about the structure of the court, and it’s ministers.  About Aguirre, I said:

Minister Aguirre, who has been on the Court since 1995, unlike the other Ministers who are mostly legal scholars or worked as government lawyers, had a political career in his native Jalisco, is a graduate of the Opus Dei influenced Autonomous University of Guadalajara, and had little experience outside his native state.

Even so, the Mexican Supremes don’t seem to shy away from sorting out human rights violations from “executive privilege” and — despite the Mexican love of circumlocution — don’t seem particularly interested in coming up with some flowery or legalistic jargon to justify beating, killing and raping people. There are some questions of whether or not the higher ups will be held responsible, but given that Gov. Peña has been the early favorite for the PRI’s 2010 presidential candidate, the accusation itself may have significant impact.

Predictably, the PRI is hopping mad about the ruling. David Agren writes:

As the Supreme Court probes the May 2006 Atenco affair, some lawmakers are proposing reforms that would limit the justices’ ability to launch investigations, which sometimes stray into what they say are politically sensitive areas.

Lawmakers from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, have accused the court of “contaminating” the electoral process just five months before the midterm elections by discussing the Atenco case, which involves allegations of police brutality and human rights abuses.

The PRI wants to limit the court’s investigative powers, the PRD wants to expand them, Agren explains. I’d suspect PAN just wants more Sergio Aguirre-type ministers.

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