A group of activists, scholars and intellectuals announced they will seek to have Mexican President Felipe Calderón tried before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, saying his militarized strategy against drug cartels has "resulted in more than 50,000 deaths."
The complaint also demands that charges be brought against Mexico's No. 1 drug lord, Joaquín "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzmán, and other kingpins, as well as against military brass and Cabinet members, for the damage they have caused to Mexican society and human rights.
"Mexico is in a state of emergency and experiencing the most dramatic humanitarian crisis of its recent history, with already more than 50,000 dead, 230,000 displaced, 10,000 missing and 1,300 children and adolescents slain," the plaintiffs said.
They said the carnage was sparked by Calderón's decision - within days of taking office in December 2006 - to launch "a war" against drug trafficking.
Speaking at a press conference, the plantiffs said the complaint will be submitted to the chief prosecutor of The Hague-based tribunal, Luis Moreno Ocampo, on Nov. 25 and that 20,000 signatures from ordinary citizens have been gathered so far in support of their effort.
Attorney Netzai Sandoval Ballesteros pointed to the "constant violation of the civilian population's human rights, particularly of the most vulnerable groups such as woman and migrants, who are continually being victimized by the authorities and organized crime."
Although all those listed in the complaint "could allege they haven't committed any murder directly or ordered serious crimes ... they are responsible for ... protecting the cartel hit men, police and soldiers who directly commit them," the lawyer said.
"In this way, the brutal violence that is assaulting our country has become institutionalized and turned into a daily practice," he said.
Regarding the inclusion of Sinaloa cartel boss "Chapo" Guzmán - Mexico's most-wanted fugitive - in the complaint, Sandoval said he and other drug mob kingpins have committed war crimes and recruited children into their ranks as gunmen.
He also recalled that citizens and attorneys asked the Supreme Court in May to investigate serious human rights violations stemming from Calderón's drug war but that the justices turned a deaf ear.
For his part, John Ackerman, scholar with the Legal Research Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, and another plaintiff in the case, said it time to bring charges against "those responsible for the carnage."
He said it is no coincidence that Calderón last year "distanced himself from the word 'war' in referring to the effort to combat drug trafficking, because he knows what that implies in international law: that he could be brought to justice."
The Mexican government, however, blasted the group's bid to have the ICC investigate Calderón.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that it "categorically rejects" the notion that Calderón's "security policy might constitute an international crime," arguing that if the government "had not acted with the forcefulness it has shown ... many families in different communities in the country would be at the mercy of the criminals."
"The national security strategy actions are being carried out with full respect for the rule of law," the ministry said.
Calderón's decision to deploy federal forces, including tens of thousands of soldiers, to drug-war flashpoints to replace notoriously corrupt and underpaid local law enforcement has come under fire from local and international human rights groups.
New York-based Human Rights Watch, for example, said earlier this year that the National Human Rights Commission - Mexico's equivalent of an Ombud's Office - had received close to 5,000 allegations of human rights violations by the military, including killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and rape dating back to 2007.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.