- Although the arbitrary executions were confirmed, no official has been held accountable.
- The impunity surrounding the case sends a negative message in the context of the militarization of public security.
Mexico City, June 30, 2019. Today is the fifth anniversary of the Tlatlaya massacre, when members of the Mexican Army killed arbitrarily at least 12 people in the context of the militarization of public security. To date, no one has been held legally accountable for these crimes.
On June 30, 2014, 22 people were killed in a warehouse in the town of San Pedro Limón in the municipality of Tlatlaya, State of Mexico. The Mexican Army (Sedena, by its Spanish acronym) declared that the civilians died during a confrontation between organized crime and members of the 102nd infantry battalion. However, journalists’ investigations, the testimony of the survivor Clara Gómez González, and Recommendation 51/2014 of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH, by its Spanish acronym) revealed that an unknown number of civilians —between 12 and 15, according to the CNDH— had been arbitrarily executed, that the crime scene had been altered to cover up the perpetrators, and that survivors had been tortured to prevent them from telling the truth.
In addition, Center Prodh confirmed that, days before the massacre, the infantry battalion had been literally ordered to “kill people at night.”
Ignoring the limits set by national and international human rights standards on military jurisdiction, Sedena initiated a criminal investigation into the events. In March 2016, the Sixth Military Court ordered the acquittal of six out of the seven soldiers accused of infringement of military duties, and only one soldier was sentenced to a year in prison for disobedience.
Similarly, the Attorney General’s Office (PGR, by its Spanish acronym) accused seven soldiers of cover-up and murder of 8 civilians in its investigation AP/PGR/UEITA/161/2014, but they were discharged by the Judiciary in May 2016, even when the arbitrary executions had been confirmed.
Thanks to the relentless search for justice of Clara Gómez González, who lost her daughter Ericka, a teenager, during the massacre, on July 31, 2017, the Fourteenth District Amparo Court specialized in criminal justice in Mexico City ordered the PGR, in its judgment under the case number 545/2017, to investigate the events with due diligence, including the chain of command and the military order to kill criminals.
Despite this judgment and the support in achieving justice provided by international bodies, such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and from UN special procedures, such as the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, to date, no progress has been made to know the truth, and the military officials involved in the case have not been punished for taking the lives of civilians.
The cover-up and impunity of this emblematic case send a negative message about the militarization of public security in Mexico’s current context, when the National Guard has been deployed.
If the case is not solved and the perpetrators at all levels are not punished, it will be understood that the deaths resulting from the militarization of public security carry no consequences, which will certainly give rise to new gross human rights violations.