The Mexican president in the Dock? Well, not yet, but charges of “crimes against humanity” were filed last Friday in the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands against President Felipe Calderón, the Secretaries of Mexico’s Army, Navy, and Public Safety, and notorious drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
The charges were filed by human rights lawyer Netzaí Sandoval, supported by 23,000 citizen signatures, and allege, among other things, that the Mexican state bears direct responsibility for crimes committed by federal agents in the context of the war against organized crime. The charges detail 470 cases of state-committed crimes, including rape by soldiers, enslavement of undocumented migrants by government functionaries (often in collaboration with criminal groups), extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances and torture used to extract confessions.
The complaint, not surprisingly, alleges far greater crimes committed by Chapo Guzmán and his Sinaloa Cartel.
Sandoval told the press that the case was taken to an international court because the Mexican judicial system lacked the “will and ability . . . to judge crimes against humanity.” While there is no guarantee that the Court will take the case, it is likely to place Mexico under observation while it evaluates the merits. This, in itself, is a small victory for human rights.
For more from Fred Rosen's blog, "Mexico, Bewildered and Contested," visit nacla.org/blog/mexico-bewildered-contested. See also the May/June 2011 NACLA Report "Mexico's Drug Crisis," or NACLA blogs, Border Wars and Traffick Jam, for more on the U.S.-Mexico border or drug trafficking in the region.