Mexico City – The strategy of fighting Mexico's drug cartels implemented by President Felipe Calderon in 2006 will "surely continue" until the end of his term in November 2012, Mexican ombudsman Raul Plascencia told Efe.
"When his administration ends, there will have to be an analysis, a review, of the costs, benefits, achievements, or, in some cases, failures, and the new president of the republic will certainly have to make a decision about whether to continue, change or end" the security strategy, in which the armed forces play a key role, Plascencia said.
Calderon "decided to adopt and execute" the policy of militarizing the drug war shortly after taking office on Dec. 1, 2006, Plascencia, who serves as president of the National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, Mexico's equivalent of an ombudsman's office, said.
The president's decision was influenced by "the power that members of organized crime groups have acquired," making it impossible for local police in many parts of Mexico to deal with them because of the infiltration of municipal and state law enforcement agencies, Plascencia said.
"This explains, although I cannot justify, the cooperation and support the armed forces have received in carrying out this concrete case of fighting organized crime," the ombudsman said.
"It is desirable and it would be helpful if a larger number of police officers had already been trained" both at the municipal and state levels to let them do their work so the soldiers can return to their barracks, Plascencia said.
"However, day by day, this is not the reality, so a review will have to be made, a detailed study to determine whether it is worth it, it makes sense, and is acceptable to let the army continue exercising a power that belongs to civil authorities ... or whether it belongs to and should continue to be exercised by civil authorities," the Mexican ombudsman said.
The Federal Police has about 34,000 officers, a number that "would more or less be sufficient to take over the work of the armed forces," Plascencia said.
Regarding the recent visit to Mexico by the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, South Africa's Navi Pillay, Plascencia said the CNDH and the ombudsmen from the country's 32 states agreed to cooperate more closely in fighting torture.
"The possibility was discussed of carrying out a joint strategy of training, prevention and, above all, of analyzing this phenomenon, which, day by day, has been spreading across the country," Plascencia said.
Human rights officials will work with the United Nations to develop reliable indicators on public safety and education, and they will try to promote measures to prevent abuses in Mexico, the ombudsman said.
Mexico's institutions have been strengthened in recent years with regard to compliance with human rights standards, Plascencia said.
Soldiers accused of committing human rights violations should be tried in civilian courts, which is not the case now, the ombudsman said.
"I believe there is no doubt that society wants and demands that justice be as impartial, transparent and close to society as possible when it is applied in the face of any type of abuse," Plascencia said.
The justice system must change and "shift toward the victims" in Mexico, where 15 million crimes are committed annually and just 150,000 convictions occur, the CNDH chief said.
"If that is not the case, then justice and public safety are perverted, and one finds no explanation of who is benefiting when the victim is the first one harmed and offended, or harmed by the authorities," Plascencia said.
The CNDH, an independent public agency, serves as Mexico's ombudsman's office and its head is elected by the Senate to a five-year term.
Plascencia's term will end in 2014.