Mexico City – Mexican President Felipe Calderon pledged to comply with sentences handed down by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights after meeting with the president of that Costa Rica-based tribunal.
The head of state met in private with Diego Garcia-Sayan to review topics of mutual concern in the human rights area, the Mexican president's office said Wednesday in a statement.
During the meeting, both men stressed the need to bolster respect and protection for human rights in Mexico and the rest of the Americas.
Discussion centered on the Inter-American human rights system and a June 9 constitutional reform on human rights in Mexico, the statement said.
Garcia-Sayan acknowledged the efforts the Mexican government has made to comply with the hemispheric court's sentences, while Calderon thanked the tribunal for its cooperation in training Mexican judges and magistrates to apply international human rights standards.
In June, the Mexican government made public an IACHR ruling stating that two peasant ecologists, Teodoro Cabrera Garcia and Rodolfo Montiel Flores, had been the victims of "cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment" by the army in 1999.
In compliance with the sentence, Mexico must compensate the two men for the treatment they suffered, including torture, the failure to bring them before a judge in a timely manner and other irregularities.
But some national and international organizations, including London-based Amnesty International, say rights violations have increased under Calderon, who took office in late 2006.
Those groups have denounced abuses by soldiers deployed by the tens of thousands in recent years to combat powerful drug cartels, saying they had not been properly trained to take on law-enforcement duties.
The president, however, says federal forces had to be given the lead role in the drug war because local and state police had been thoroughly corrupted by the well-funded mobs.
Clashes between security forces and drug-cartel enforcers and turf battles among the cartels have left more than 40,000 dead during Calderon's tenure.
Rights groups also have decried rampant impunity in Mexico in cases of rights abuses by the military.
New York-based Human Rights Watch 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.
HRW said that despite the scale of the abuses, Calderon's government "continues to rely on its flawed military justice system to investigate and prosecute soldiers alleged to have committed human rights abuses."
"But military courts have a record of near total impunity, having sentenced only one soldier for a human rights abuse committed during the Calderon administration," the statement said.
Amnesty and HRW, however, hailed a ruling last month by Mexico's Supreme Court stating that the country had to comply with an Inter-American Court of Human Rights sentence in the case of a man found to have been forcibly "disappeared" by the Mexican military in 1974.