May 27, 2018
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AI warns of use of Mexican soldiers as police after apparent execution

Mexico City, May 25 (efe-epa).- Mexican soldiers are ill-equipped for law-enforcement functions and using them as police in the country's war on drugs merely leads to additional violence and human rights violations, Amnesty International said.

The London-based human rights group made that assessment in a news release after the emergence of new video evidence showing men in military garb fatally shooting an individual during a security operation in central Mexico.

"This video shows what human rights activists have been reporting for decades: the Mexican military is out of control and should never be tasked with public security operations," Erika Guevara-Rosas, AI's Americas Director, was quoted as saying in the release.

She made her remarks as Mexican lawmakers debate a bill that would grant broad police powers to members of the military.

"The mere idea of allowing military personnel to detain people and investigate crimes is outrageous given the Mexican military's tragic human rights record. This is an ill-conceived strategy that has already proven utterly ineffective," Guevara-Rosas added.

In the news release, the rights watchdog said military sources had officially confirmed that on May 3 armed forces personnel had carried out two security operations in Palmarito Tochapan, a small town in the central state of Puebla.

They said that during the second operation five people - including two soldiers - were killed in a shootout between soldiers and alleged criminals.

But video footage, purportedly of the operation, was uploaded days later on social media and appears to show a soldier shooting an individual lying on the floor.

AI said it had examined the footage and determined that it had not been tampered with and that it was taken in Palmarito Tochapan.

"Based on this evidence, Amnesty International finds enough reasons to believe that an extrajudicial execution might have occurred on the night of May 3, 2017, at Palmarito Tochapan, Puebla, and calls on the authorities for an impartial, independent and effective civilian investigation of the military personnel involved in the case, including those with command or superior responsibility," the rights watchdog said.

AI and other human rights groups have long accused security forces of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other serious rights violations as part of Mexico's "war on drugs," which former President Felipe Calderon launched after taking office for a six-year term in 2006.

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