Thursday, July 25, 2019

Human rights complaints in Mexico; Guatemala lawmakers attack Constitutional Court (July 25, 2019)

News Briefs
  • The Trump administration is expected to appeal the federal court ruling that blocked the sweeping asylum rule which would have essentially banned most asylum seekers from petitioning for protection at the U.S.-Mexico border. Other restrictive anti-asylum policies remain in full force—under the "Remain in Mexico" program, the U.S. government is dumping multiple busloads of hundreds of asylum seekers in the Mexican border city of Monterrey, where, the AP reports, shelters are overflowing. 
  • Mexico's Attorney General's Office is investigating over 100 government officials and former state employees, including Mexico City's former attorney general, for fudging Mexico City crime statistics. Some 74 percent of the homicide, kidnapping, rape and robbery crimes had been registered incorrectly, a UN-supported audit found (La JornadaEFE).
  • The National Human Rights Commission filed six criminal complaints, as well as a dozen of administrative complaints, against nearly 400 public officials for human rights violations and lack of due diligence in connection to the 2014 disappearance of 43 students while in police custody (Animal PoliticoAP). It's up to federal prosecutors to decide whether or not to press charges. 
  • A joint investigation by Rutas del Conflicto and anti-censorship coalition Liga Contra el Silencio found that the joint "national security" agreements signed between Colombia's security forces, the Attorney General's Office, and mining and energy companies aren't exclusively focused on security issues. An examination of 200 of these agreements found that Colombia's extractive industry is paying for tourism trips and infrastructure projects that benefit the police and military. This could arguably represent a conflict of interest, the report states, given the role that the police and military has played in harassing and repressing protests by local communities against mining and energy projects. 
  • A day before tomorrow's planned march to call attention to threats facing social leaders,  Colombia police say they have arrested 8 of the top 31 suspects involved in killing community leaders and human rights activists (EFE). 
  • The FARC political party are taking a low-key approach to campaigning for October's gubernatorial and mayoral elections, with a focus on winning seats in local councils and assemblies, according to analysis by La Silla Vacia
  • joint investigation by, the Miami Herald, InfoAmazonia and others details how "corrupt military forces, Venezuelan gangs, and Colombia guerrilla groups benefit from a lack of government control and enrich themselves with illegal mining and trafficking Venezuelan gold." 
Central America
  • In a Washington Post op-ed, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele argues that his plan for stemming the flow of migration to the United States—with a focus on tackling organized crime and corruption—is already showing results. "We want to become a leading model on how to stop the flow of illegal migration north, and we want to do this through a close partnership with the United States," he stated, adding that El Salvador is "not looking for handouts but, rather, investments and great relations." 
  • In a worrisome sign of a growing culture of disregard for rule of law in Guatemala, members of Guatemala's Congress are taking aim at the Constitutional Court. Several lawmakers have filed a legal complaint against three Court magistrates, citing abuse of authority (elPeriodico); another congressional committee is moving on taking legal action against Court magistrates who blocked Guatemala's proposed amnesty law for ex-members of the military.  
  • Tomorrow, the Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations will initiate its monitoring mission of Guatemala's top electoral authority, which has blamed software errors for discrepancies in voter data after the June 16 election. Guatemala's second round of presidential elections will take place on August 11; the electoral authority has stated it will use the same software to tabulate the votes (Prensa Libre). 
  • Tomorrow will see an important advance in Guatemala's selection process for 13 Supreme Court and 140 appellate court candidates: the national lawyers' association will vote on who will represent them on their respective selection process committee  (Nomada). The use of these committees to nominate Guatemala's high court candidates has received strong criticism from national and international observers, who cite a lack of transparency and describe the process as overly vulnerable to partisan influence. 
  • A prominent human rights defenders says there is a pattern of paramilitaries carrying out politically motivated assassinations in rural Nicaragua, with six deaths registered in the last two months (Confidencial). 
  • Former President Ricardo Martinelli's legal team will present their defense Monday, as the trial against Panama's former president—charged with misusing public funds and spying on the communications of some 150 people—continues (EFE). 
  • A judge has dismissed at least one of the eight criminal charges facing former President "Lula" da Silva; however, the ex-president will still face charges for corruption, influence peddling, and a money laundering charge (EFE). 
  • "Informal settlements [in Manaus] are expanding, with a new occupation attempt every 11 days, and the threat to the rainforest is severe" (The Guardian). 
  • Illegal gold mining operations continue to advance on indigenous land across Brazil (BBC Mundo)
  • President Bolsonaro claims his phone was hacked (AP). 
  • "The belief that a culture of violence within Jamaica’s households is at least partly to blame for the violence engulfing its streets is fueling a growing push to ban the use of corporal punishment in schools, and at home. The effort is finding support not only among child advocates and some educators, but in the United Nations" (Miami Herald). 
  • "More than 58 years of isolating Havana has shown that the [U.S.] strategy [of isolating Cuba] doesn’t follow any logical theory of regime change, even if it plays well in South Florida." (NYTimes op-ed)
-- Elyssa Pachico 

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