COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
296. The Committee considered
the eleventh periodic report of Mexico (CERD/C/263/Add.10) at its
1206th and 1207th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1206 and 1207) on 17 and 18
March 1997. At its 1231st, 1234th and 1235th meetings on 14, 15
and 18 August 1997, respectively, it adopted the following concluding
297. The Committee welcomes
the continuation of the dialogue with the Government of Mexico.
It expresses its satisfaction to the State party for the diligence
with which the Government submitted its report, which follows the
new guidelines established by the Committee. The Committee also
expresses its satisfaction for the oral replies provided by the
delegation during the consideration of its report.
298. The Committee notes
that the State party has not made the declaration provided for in
article 14 of the Convention; some members of the Committee requested
the Mexican Government to consider the possibility of doing so.
B. Factors and
difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
299. The Committee recognizes that Mexico is a country in which a
large number (56) of ethnic and indigenous groups with extremely varied
cultural and linguistic traditions live side by side. Mexico is also
characterized by extreme poverty that affects large and mainly indigenous
segments of the population, particularly in the province of Chiapas,
where a conflict between a national liberation movement and the local
and federal authorities has been continuing since 1994. Despite numerous
institutional, political, economic and social initiatives, the Mexican
authorities have not fully succeeded in eliminating endemic poverty,
which has aggravated the social inequalities that affect indigenous
populations in particular, nor in restoring social peace in the State
C. Positive aspects
300. The Committee notes
with satisfaction the numerous initiatives taken by the National
Human Rights Commission during the period under consideration, and
in particular the work done on behalf of imprisoned indigenous inhabitants,
as well as the radio and television programmes intended to increase
awareness of, disseminate information about and provide education
in human rights.
301. The efforts made
by the State party since 1994 to restore peace in the state of Chiapas
are noteworthy. The establishment, in 1995, of the Concord and Peace
Commission and the creation in December 1996 of the Commission for
Monitoring and Verification of the Peace Agreements were particularly
welcome. The investigation by the National Human Rights Commission
of complaints submitted by the civilian population concerning human
rights violations and the conclusion of the agreement of 16 February
1996 on indigenous rights and culture constitute significant progress
in the pacification process.
302. The Committee also
takes note of the many programmes and measures recently introduced
by the Mexican authorities to combat extreme poverty and to promote
the economic, social and cultural development of the indigenous
D. Principal subjects of concern
303. The Committee regrets
the existence of differences with the State party over the interpretations
of the Convention. These differences were already noted during the
consideration of previous reports, particularly with regard to the
persistence of racial or ethnic discrimination against certain social
groups and the failure fully to implement the provisions of article
4 of the Convention. The Committee also regrets the inaccuracy of
the data on the composition of the population of the State party.
304. Concern was expressed
over the persistence of discriminatory practices -some involving
the authorities - directed against members of indigenous groups.
305. At the present
time, national legislation is not in conformity with the provisions
of article 4 of the Convention; this is a source of serious concern,
since the State party has not yet taken all the necessary steps
to effectively prevent and combat the different forms of racial
and ethnic discrimination.
306. With regard to
article 5 of the Convention, in certain situations, an individual's
right to enjoy equal treatment in the courts is not effectively
guaranteed for members of indigenous groups. Specifically, they
are not guaranteed the right to express themselves in their own
languages during legal proceedings.
307. Concern was expressed
over the right to security of person, particularly for indigenous
inhabitants and illegal immigrants. This right to security of person
has in certain cases been violated by representatives of the forces
of law and order, paramilitary groups and landowners. All too often,
those responsible for these crimes have gone unpunished.
308. The Committee is
concerned about the protection of the political rights of members
of indigenous groups and would appreciate additional information
concerning their participation in the national parliament and in
309. With respect to
the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, the Committee
notes with concern that the members of indigenous groups live in
extreme poverty. The fact that the report of the State party contains
no social and economic indicators of the marginalization and non-integration
of certain population groups is regrettable in this connection.
Lastly, another source of concern is the land delimitation and distribution
process, which does not seem to have fully respected the land rights
of the indigenous populations.
310. As for the implementation
of article 6 of the Convention, the Committee notes with concern
that the report of the State party contains no information on the
number of complaints, judgments and compensation awards arising
from all kinds of racist acts.
311. With regard to
article 7, and despite the obvious efforts made recently by the
Government of Mexico, the Committee notes with concern the continuing
inadequacy of the measures adopted to provide appropriate human
rights training for State law enforcement officials who are in regular
contact with "vulnerable" populations, and particularly
members of the forces of law and order and prison personnel.
312. The absence of
local and federal legislation guaranteeing indigenous populations
the possibility of a bilingual and bicultural education remains
a source of concern.
313. The fact that the
report of the State party contains no accurate statistics on the
indigenous population makes it difficult to analyse the extent to
which this large segment of the population enjoys the rights recognized
by the Convention.
314. Lastly, the situation
in the State of Chiapas remains unstable and of considerable concern,
since political negotiations have been suspended, despite the efforts
announced by the Government authorities as well as by the Zapatist
National Liberation Army. This tense situation is aggravating the
precariousness of the indigenous populations living in that region.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
315. The State party
is requested to furnish, in its next report, detailed statistics
on the various indigenous groups living in Mexico.
316. The Committee hopes
that the State party will continue its efforts to improve the effectiveness
of measures and programmes designed to ensure that members of all
population groups, especially the 56 indigenous groups, fully enjoy
their political, economic, social and cultural rights. The Committee
also recommends that the State party should devote due attention
to the legislative changes required as well as to the development
of programmes to foster awareness of human rights, particularly
among representatives of the State.
317. The Committee requests
the Government to Mexico to provide, in its next periodic report,
precise information and "indicators" on the social and
economic difficulties encountered by indigenous populations. The
Committee also draws the State party's attention to the need to
devise "indicators' to evaluate policies and programmes for
protecting and promoting the rights of vulnerable populations.
318. The Committee recommends
that the State party should do everything possible to speed up current
legislative reforms and, more specifically, to bring national legislation
fully into line with the provisions of article 4 of the Convention.
319. The State party
should also take the necessary steps to allow citizens from indigenous
populations to be elected in political elections and to have access
to the civil service.
320. The Committee recommends
that the State party should take all appropriate measures to ensure
equal and impartial treatment before the law for all persons, and
particularly those from indigenous groups. In particular, it invites
the Mexican authorities to offer indigenous inhabitants the possibility
of expressing themselves in their mother tongue in all judicial
321. The Committee recommends
that the Government of Mexico should exercise greater vigilance
in the protection of the fundamental rights of indigenous inhabitants
and other vulnerable groups of society, who are regularly the victims
of intimidation, violence and serious human rights violations. It
hopes that the competent authorities will systematically prosecute
those responsible for such crimes, regardless of whether they are
members of private militias or State officials, and that effective
preventive measures will be taken, including the training of members
of the police force and the army. The State party should also ensure
that the victims of such acts are compensated.
322. The Committee recommends
that the State party should find just and equitable solutions to
land delimitation, distribution and restitution problems. Everything
possible should be done to protect indigenous inhabitants from all
forms of discrimination in such matters.
323. In order to be
able to evaluate the implementation of article 6 of the Convention,
the Committee recommends that the State party should present, in
its next report, information on the number of complaints, judgments
and compensation awards arising from racist acts, regardless of
324. The Committee recommends
that the State party should make every effort to provide multicultural
education for everyone.
325. The Committee recommends
that the State party should give nationwide publicity to its eleventh
periodic report and to the Committee's concluding observations thereon.
326. The Committee recommends
that the State party should ratify as soon as possible the amendments
to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, which were adopted
at the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties.
327. The Committee recommends
that the State party's next periodic report should be a more detailed
one and should address all the questions raised in these concluding