Mexican Human Rights Commission clears military leadership of responsibility for Nuevo Laredo massacre

A report acknowledges the use of excessive force by uniformed personnel but does not hold the Army's chain of command responsible.

The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) published its final verdict on the Nuevo Laredo massacre that occurred at the end of February. The Mexican constitutional body acknowledged that the military present in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, had used "excessive use of force through the illegitimate use of firearms,” which resulted in the death of five individuals, in addition to two others who were wounded.

The CNDH submitted a report with recommendations to the Mexican Secretary of Defense Luis Cresencio Sandoval, urging the chief of the Armed Forces to set up an Executive Commission of Attention to Victims to help those affected by the Nuevo Laredo event. Although the report focuses on the military personnel present during the events, the CNDH does not hold the chain of command, the leadership of the Armed Forces or the Ministry of National Defense responsible.

The CNDH only refers to the training that the Armed Forces command offers, which would have been caused by the actions of the "elements deployed by the Secretary of National Defense," which in this case "was not in accordance with the provisions of the Manual on the Use of Force (...) nor with international standards." Therefore, the CNDH report calls on the Secretary of Defense to "review its training programs and operating procedures."

State Department report

The CNDH's report comes just days after a U.S. State Department report was published warning of repeated human rights violations in Mexico, many of them linked to Mexican law enforcement. The report holds armed Mexican state officials responsible for torture, arbitrary executions and multiple other forms of abuse.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador spoke on this issue on Tuesday in his morning conference and rejected the claims in the State Department report. He dismissed the conclusions of the brief as "pure politicking" and "lies." "They are liars (...) They assume themselves to be the government of the world and they only see the speck in someone else's eye and not the log in their own," added the Mexican president.