Mexican Troops Guilty of Abuse, 2 Jurists Report

<i> From Reuters</i>

The International Commission of Jurists said Tuesday that Mexican troops committed serious human rights abuses in trying to put down a peasant uprising in Chiapas last month.

The accusation came in a preliminary report by a mission of two Latin American lawyers sent by the respected Geneva-based body earlier this month to investigate the situation in the southern state following the rebellion.

“Government troops were guilty of serious violations of human rights,” said a summary of the report issued by the commission, which has a membership of 45 lawyers around the world and aims to defend the rule of law.


“These violations included: summary executions of prisoners, some of whom had been wounded before their capture; the arbitrary detention of perhaps more than 200 civilians, torture and other forms of abuse,” the commission said.

The report was issued as peace talks were under way in the Chiapas capital of San Cristobal de las Casas between rebel leaders and Mexican government envoys.

The two commission lawyers, Alejandro Artucio of Uruguay and Eduard Duhalde of Argentina, said in the report that they feared people may have been kidnaped by the armed forces.

There were approximately 20 people whose whereabouts were unknown, they said.

The report estimated that between 200 and 300 people died in the 10 days of fighting after the rebels seized several towns in the region Jan. 1. The conflict was rooted in extreme poverty and discrimination against the indigenous population, it said.

The two lawyers said that during 10 days in Chiapas and in Mexico City from Feb. 1 through Feb. 10, they received no complaints of abuses against civilians by the insurgents’ Zapatista National Liberation Army.

But they also recorded that they received “generous cooperation and support” from the Mexican government and local authorities.