'While President Peña Nieto is getting the red-carpet treatment, his police and security services have serious blood on their hands' - Tom Davies
Amnesty International is calling on David Cameron and Nick Clegg to raise human rights with the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto during the Mexican leader’s three-day state visit to the UK this week.
Mr Peña Nieto's trip to Britain (3-5 March) - part of a designated year of bilateral exchanges between the two countries - comes at a turbulent time in Mexico. There is mounting controversy over the handling of an investigation into the disappearance - and presumed murder - of 43 students last year. The students, from a teachers’ college in Guerrero state, are believed to have been killed by a criminal gang - possibly with the involvement of local police or other officials.
Since Mexico launched a “war on drugs” in 2006, there have been more than 100,000 killings and over 22,000 disappearances. The last decade has also seen a six-fold increase in reported cases of torture, with Amnesty describing torture as being “out of control” in Mexico. In a 74-page report published in September, Amnesty pointed out that over 1,500 cases of torture and other ill-treatment were reported to the country’s National Human Rights Commission in 2013, six times more than in 2003, with the number of cases rising dramatically following the government’s launch of the “war on drugs”.
Ahead of President Peña Nieto’s arrival in the UK, Amnesty has written to the Prime Minister David Cameron and the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, both of whom are set to meet the Mexican leader. Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg are called on to raise human rights concerns, urging Mr Peña Nieto “to set out the measures to stop the widespread and persistent use of torture by members of the police and armed forces”.
Amnesty International UK Stop Torture campaign manager Tom Davies said:
“While President Peña Nieto is getting the red-carpet treatment, his police and security services have serious blood on their hands.
“With public officials complicit in drug cartel crimes as well as thousands of torture cases of its own, President Peña Nieto needs to radically overhaul his country’s woeful response to this crisis.
“Messrs Cameron and Clegg will no doubt want to focus on trade and cultural ties during Mr Nieto’s trip, but they should ensure that the issue of torture in Mexico isn’t passed over in silence.
“Rolling out the red carpet musn’t mean brushing Mexico’s dreadful human rights record under the very same carpet.”
Piñata stunt at Mexican Embassy
Earlier today Amnesty campaigners took a 14,000-strong petition on torture to the Mexican Embassy in central London. The petition
was delivered in a bright yellow three-metre-wide piñata
, a traditional brightly-coloured papier-mâché container, which bore the message “Stop torture in Mexico”. Following the usual practice, the piñata
was broken open by a blindfolded person wielding a stick, though in this case the blindfold itself read “President Peña Nieto: Don’t turn a blind eye to torture”. Amnesty’s petition to the Mexican president urges him to ensure that the country’s Federal Attorney General moves to guarantee that there are thorough investigations into all allegations of torture in Mexico and that all perpetrators are brought to justice.