August 1, 2007 / 10:47 PM / 11 years ago

Mexico failing to protect human rights: Amnesty

MEXICO CITY, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Mexico, which considers itself a champion of human rights internationally, has failed to keep its promise to uphold justice and protect its poorest citizens at home, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

Irene Khan, secretary general of the human rights group, said that Mexico had made no progress in jailing powerful criminals and that the corruption of the police and authorities was "a cancer" with deep roots.

Mexico has also failed to bring to justice police and politicians accused of torture during the country’s so-called dirty war in the 1960s and 1970s, she told reporters in Mexico’s capital.

"In any part of Mexico there are similar stories of the failure to obtain justice, of human rights abuses, often the denial of the state and in many cases the complicity of the authorities," Khan said.

Former President Vicente Fox appointed a special prosecutor in 2002 to look into human rights violations by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled for 71 years and crushed leftist student and guerrilla movements in the dirty war. The office closed in March this year without convicting anyone.

Mexican courts have also been unable to make former President Luis Echeverria stand trial for his alleged role in a 1968 massacre of leftist students.

Mexico’s new president, Felipe Calderon, has vowed to strengthen the country’s weak justice system and clean up the police force, but his military-backed crackdown on drug gangs has drawn criticism that soldiers have used excessive force during their raids on towns and villages suspected of colluding with cartels.

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