Citing human rights concerns, agency cuts $26 million from drug war program
In an unprecedented move, the US State Department has decided to cut $26 million from a $175 million payment that will be used to wage the drug war Mexico.
The money is part of the Mérida Initiative (Plan Mexico), a $1.4 billion security agreement passed in 2008, in which the United States provides training and equipment to Mexican law enforcement and military personnel.
It is the first time that the State Department has denied funds from the security pact due to human rights concerns. The agency claims it made the decision based on human rights abuses committed by the Mexican military.
The Arizona Republic, which broke the story over Labor Day weekend, writes that:
The Obama administration wants Mexico to try soldiers accused of abuses in civilian courts, strengthen its laws against human-rights violations and establish ways to give citizens groups a greater say in the anti-drug strategies, said Harry Edwards, a spokesman for the State Department.
...Under the terms of the Merida Initiative, the State Department is supposed to withhold 15 percent of anti-drug aid unless Mexico meets four conditions: ensuring that soldiers accused of human-rights abuses are prosecuted in civilian courts, improving the accountability of the Federal Police, enforcing a ban on torture, and consulting with civil groups about the anti-drug strategy.
As Narco News has reported, there have been more human rights complaints against the military during Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s administration than ever before. Out of the 4,035 complaints that have been reported since 2006, 56 members of the military have been disciplined since that time.