Open Letter to Harper, Obama and Peña: Place human rights at the center of today’s Summit and end the ‘war on drugs’

February 19, 2014

In an Open Letter to the 3 leaders of North America, the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights urges that human rights are moved to the center of the debate. The North American Leaders Summit, held in the city of Toluca, Mexico, today should not center only on economic growth through increased free trade. Since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, illegal drug trafficking has increased in the region and arms easily flow from the U.S. to the other countries. Human rights defenders are among the casualties.

“Although the security discourse has changed since President Peña Nieto took office in December 2012, the statistics continue to demonstrate that the violence has not stopped, neither human rights violations.  According to data from the National Commission on Human Rights, between December 1, 2012 and January 1, 2014, there have been 938 complaints of abuse against the military. The constant militarization and the lack of substantial changes in the security policy, including drug policy, have had devastating effects in Mexico. For example, the more than  100,000 people killed or executed, over 25,000 people disappeared – according to official data – and thousands more forcibly displaced. These numbers, these faces of loved ones, all of whom are accompanied by a personal history, cannot be ignored any longer.  As a human rights organization directly working on cases of torture, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention and forced disappearances committed by security agencies and the consequent impunity,  we express our great consternation over the lack of substantial changes on drug policy.

Recent shifts across the Americas have started a trend towards a new drug policy, based on the respect of human rights and the premises of citizen security. The governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico must  promote a policy on that trend and place human rights at the center of the debate. Drug policy is not a matter that the Mexican should address alone, but a global concern that must be prioritized by the leaders of North America. As other organizations of the region, we welcome the changes that are being implemented in Uruguay, in over 20 states of the United States that have regulated medical marihuana and also for recreational use (Colorado and Washington). We also salute the recent debate initiated in Mexico City by the Major and the local Assembly on drug policy.

For all of the above, we respectfully call to take this opportunity to trace the road leading to end with the suffering of millions of people in Mexico and around the world caused by the failed war on drugs. This is the moment to place human rights, health and citizen security at the center of the debate.”

Carta Abierta: Harper, Obama y Peña, necesario poner los derechos humanos en el centro del debate.

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