UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Friday called on the Mexican government to investigate possible complicity [press release] by government officials in the mid-December abduction of 40 Central American migrants. While details are somewhat unclear, the UN believes that Mexican officials stopped a freight train headed north in Oaxaca, detained approximately 90 migrants, and allowed the remaining individuals to continue on the train. Soon after, armed individuals boarded the train and abducted 40 of the migrants. Pillay called for a transparent investigation into the treatment of those individuals detained by the Mexican authorities, as well as the circumstances that led to the armed abduction so soon after authorities allowed the train to continue, saying:
The Mexican authorities need to ascertain whether or not any state officials, including those working for the state-owned train operator, were complicit with the criminal organization that carried out the abductions and extortion, both in this and other cases.Pillay also condemned the threats directed at Father Alejandro Solalinde, one of Mexico's most prominent defenders of migrant rights.
The human rights environment in Mexico has deteriorated significantly over the past decade, as the Mexican Drug War [LAT backgrounder] has increased in severity. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) set up an office in Mexico in 2002 and since that time has released numerous reports [OHCHR database] documenting Mexico's struggle in the areas of education, rights of indigenous people and immigrant rights. While Mexico has condemned [JURIST report] Arizona's attempts to curb immigration into the US through the controversial SB 1070 [bill materials; JURIST news archive], activists believe that Mexican immigration laws are even more restrictive [UPI report], and that immigrants to Mexico routinely face abuse and harassment [AI report, PDF].