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Cablegate: Deputy Assistant Secretary Jacobson Meets With

VZCZCXRO4517
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #0750 0732319
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 132319Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0904
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MEXICO 000750

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON MX PGOV PHUM PREL
SUBJECT: DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON MEETS WITH
NGOS TO DISCUSS THE MERIDA INITIATIVE

1. (SBU) Summary. On March 5, Deputy Assistant Secretary,
Roberta Jacobson met with Mexican human rights/rule of law
and security NGOs to address concerns about human rights and
security related to the GOM's recent counter narcotics push
and possible expanded U.S.-Mexico law enforcement
cooperation. Jacobson said the U.S. remained committed to
working with the GOM in this area and emphasized that NGO's
can and should play a key role in strengthening security
institutions at this juncture. Acknowledging human rights
concerns here, Jacobson also noted that institutional
improvements would over time lead to greater professionalism
among security elements, and help curb rights abuses. End
summary.

2, (U) NGO representatives present at the meeting included:
Katia Ornelas, Director of Social and Human Development at
the National Institute for Women, Alejandro Villanueva,
Spokesman for Hagamos Justicia, Carlos Rios, Advisor for
Proderecho, Martha Gabriela Mendoza Heiras, Executive
President, Citizen Security (Seguridad Ciudadana), Jose
Antonio Ortega, Director of the Citizen Council for Public
Security and Prison Justice, Jacobo Sanchez Lopez, Defense
Attorney for the Indigenous in Oaxaca, Elizabeth Hernandez
Reyes, Secretary for Indigenous Affairs and Ana Laura
Magaloni, Academic Investigator, Center of Research and
Economic Studies.


3. (SBU) The representatives raised the following issues:
human rights, judicial reform, corruption, and the Merida
Initiative

--Human Rights: In providing DAS Jacobson with an overall
picture, several NGOs expressed particular concern with
gender-related violence. Katia Ornelas, Director of Social
and Human Development at the National Institute for Women
(INMUJERES) said "Mexico should not only address problems in
fighting organized crime but should focus on combating
gender-related violence." Representatives from Oaxaca's
indigenous community said that Mexico continues to confront
ethnic-driven human rights problems.

--Judicial Reform: Several NGOs were critical of the judicial
reform bill passed by congress, saying that widespread
impunity remains Mexico's most serious legal issue and that
the reform would do little to address it. Ana Laura
Magaloni, Academic Investigator from CIDE (Center for
Research and Economic Studies) said implementing reform would
be difficult, particularly in the area of training court
personnel. However, indigenous groups from Oaxaca
highlighted the benefits of recent judicial reforms passed in
Oaxaca saying they have improved the legal rights of members
of their community.

--Corruption/transparency: NGOs also expressed concern with
the lack of transparency among government agencies in Mexico,
stressing in particular what they believe to the hermetic
nature of the country's security forces. Both Carlos Rios,
Advisor for Proderecho and Ornelas argued that the most
important initiative the GOM could take in this regard would
be to develop more transparent and more accountable
operations among law enforcement agencies. At present,
members of the public and civil society organizations have a
difficult time obtaining data and information.

--Merida Initiative: Although all of the NGOs conceded that
enhanced bilateral cooperation through a program such as the
Merida Initiative was warranted, most argued for shifts in
emphasis away from what they perceived to be the initiative's
focus on hardware and technology improvements. Rios
recommended that the program focus more on improving policing
at the state level, support a professionalized public
defender function and boost salaries for police and other
justice officials to stem corruption. Similarly, Martha
Gabriela Mendoza Heiras, Executive President of Citizen
Security suggested that Merida funds focus more on
information sharing among federal, state and local law
enforcement entities, saying there is currently very poor
interface among them.

4. (SBU) Comment: Despite their concerns with what they
cited as significant deficiencies among Mexico's security
forces, none of the representatives present objected outright
to expanded cooperation, saying that Mexico needs U.S.
support. As ever, each had his or her own special focus or
concern that should be addressed through such support.


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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