Apr 26, 2012

The Mexican government now shares responsibility for the safety of drug war victims

La Jornada: (Americas Program Original Translation)Towards the end of the legislature, the Senate unanimously approved the Victims Law, a legal framework that represents the beginning of a new road with more justice, attention, and care for those who have suffered due to human rights violations or the onslaught of organized crime, according to the PRI’s Jesús Murillo Karam in a forum discussion.

“It’s a very important step that vindicates human rights in this struggle between a police state and a state of total freedom in which we are currently immersed,” said PRD Senator Pablo Gómez, welcoming the new generation of law, which names the Mexican state partly responsible for attacks against life, property, and security of people and ordered compensation for the damage.

In the end, after participation of legislators from all parties, and some last minute changes to their views, the new law was passed with 94 votes in favor and none against, amid applause from relatives of victims, members of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, who remained excited in the debate guest area.

“The compromise between the Senate and the movement made in July 2011 was honored,” exclaimed Senate President José González Morfín (PAN) from the podium.

Before, there had been attempts to stop this new bill. Murillo Kara, president of the Commission of Government and one of the architects of the reform, said, forming his opinion, that it is a law “that will make us feel satisfied about having participated in this legislative session.”

The legal system, he said, was born “of brutal feelings” experienced by those who have had a relative kidnapped, disappeared, or killed, who receive no answers or solutions from the state. The Victims Law, he stressed, requires the state to respond to the aggrieved.

On behalf of the PAN, Senator Fernando Elizondo said that with this law, Mexico has put itself at the height of the provisions of international treaties on human rights. He noted that it establishes the National System for Victims, which will be responsible for ensuring that their rights are respected at all levels of government.

Former member of the PRD Thomas Torres, another one of those who worked on the law, noted that he felt it laid the basis for rebuilding the social fabric, which has been so badly affected by violence.

In turn, the PRI Fernando Baeza of Chihuahua emphasized that the main objective of this legislation, driven in conjuction with the Moviment for Peace with Justice and Dignity in the past nine months, is to legally repair the damage done to victims due to violence associated with organized crime through restitution, satisfaction, and eventually financial compensation, fixed at about 950 million pesos.

It is a law to save the memory, identity, and dignity of victims and their relatives; to know for sure what happened and who is responsible; see that they are stopped, tried, and punished; and thus combat impunity.

Carlos Sotelo, member of the PRD, mentioned other cases of victims of Felipe Cadlerón’s war and called for a moment of silence in their memory. Made in recognition of the advisory Eliana García, for her efforts with UNAM and other academic institutions in helping build the law.

Yesterday, several modifications to the draft were made, including the integration of the relief fund, assistance, and compensation for damage into budgetary resources and private donations.

The law mandates the creation of a national registry for victims, requires the state to seek out all possible options for disappeared persons, and gives the aggrieved the imprescriptible right to know the truth.

Sotelo, the PRD’s Rubén Velázquez, and the Citizen’s Movement’s Julián Huitrón Fuente Villa, called on deputies to approve the minutes that yesterday, with all speed, they referred the Senate President González Morfin. The Movement for Peace demanded the same thing. If not approved at San Lazaro, it will be pending until September. Yesterdaym the Senate passed the amendment for article 73 of the Constitution, which empowers the state to legislate in matters of victims. read more

By Andrea Becerril y Víctor Ballinas

Translation by Michael Kane, Americas Program

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