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Mexico rights panel criticizes Oaxaca uprising response

[JURIST] Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) [official website], an independent government council tasked with investigating alleged abuses of human rights in Mexico, issued a report Thursday criticizing the Mexican federal government's response to a May 2006 teachers' strike that escalated into an uprising in the Mexican state of Oaxaca [BBC backgrounder], saying that the federal government's intervention was "unjustifiably delayed for more than a month and half." The CNDH said that delay allowed protesters to occupy the state capital for five months after state authorities were overwhelmed. In the absence of government order, Mexican paramilitary groups and protesters clashed, resulting in the death of at least 12 people, including Bradley Roland Will, a journalist-activist from New York whose death led then-Mexican President Vicente Fox [official profile] to dispatch federal troops to restore order. The report also criticized Oaxaca prosecutors for failing to investigate the facts behind Will's death, or indict suspects for his killing. The report did not attribute sole responsibility to the Mexican government, also faulting the protesters for "[committing] excesses" like mistreating locals of Oaxaca.

The CNDH received 1,352 separate human rights complaints and found hundreds to be credible, including complaints that police officers tortured at least 13 protesters while they were being transported to detention facilities. Last October, a UN human rights expert expressed concerns over rights violations in Oaxaca [JURIST report] such as "killing and wounding by gunfire of innocent victims, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, illegal searches, and breaches of due process" by Mexican police and paramilitaries. In December 2006, Mexican police arrested the Oaxaca uprising leader [JURIST report] on five charges, including kidnapping and robbery. AP has more.

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