Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Mexico
|Publisher||Child Soldiers International|
|Cite as||Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Mexico, 2001, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/498805e128.html [accessed 13 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
UNITED MEXICAN STATES
Mainly covers the period June 1998 to April 2001 as well as including some earlier information.
– Total: 97,365,000
– Under-18s: 38,823,000
- Government armed forces:
– Active: 192,770
– Reserves: 300,000
– Paramilitary (Rural Defence Militia): 14,000
- Compulsory recruitment age: 18
- Voluntary recruitment age: 16 with consent
- Voting age (government elections): 18
- Child soldiers: indicated in government and opposition forces
- CRC-OP-AC: signed 7 September 2000, does not uphold "straight-18"
- Other treaties ratified: CRC, GC, GCPI, ILO 138
- There are indications of under-18s in the government armed forces as the minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the Armed Forces is only 16. There are also reports of under-18s being recruited by paramilitaries and armed groups.
Violence continued in Chiapas and Guerrero between government or alleged sympathisers and opposition group sympathisers. Members of so-called "paramilitary" groups, sympathisers of the PRI, were accused of violence and killing. There continued to be reports that the government used excessive force in dealing with alleged members of armed groups or their supporters in Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca. Progress was made toward achieving peace in Chiapas as incoming President Fox ordered the withdrawal of troops from the conflict zone. A constitutional-amendment bill was submitted to Congress to recognise the autonomy and legal validity of the indigenous peoples' internal systems of governance within the State framework.
Increased militarisation in states where armed groups are present is linked with tensions over land ownership, political alliances and religion which are inter-related, making it is difficult to state conclusively whether under-18s are being recruited for military or combat purposes.
Article 31 of the Mexican Constitution states that: "The obligations of Mexicans are [...] (II) To be present on the days and hours designated by the municipality [ayuntamiento] in which they reside, to receive civic and military instruction which will equip them for the exercise of their rights as citizens give them skill in the handling of arms and acquaint them with military discipline; (III) To enlist and serve in the National Guard, according to the respective organic law to secure and defend the independence, the territory, the honour, the rights and the interests of the homeland, as well as domestic tranquillity an order."1204
According to Article 1 of the Military Service Law: "it is declared as compulsory and of public order the Service of the Arms for all Mexicans by birth or naturalization, who will fulfil it ... according to their capacities and aptitudes." Article 5 of the Military Service Law states that all Mexicans, both men and women, between the ages of 18 and 40 are liable for military service.1205 Article 24 mentions that the Army may admit volunteers until the quota fixed annually by the Ministry of National Defence has been achieved. Such volunteers must be Mexicans over the age of 18 and younger than 30. People between the ages of 16 and 18 may be admitted only to train as technicians in the Transmissions Unit.
National recruitment practice
Young men are obliged to serve their military service during the calendar year in which they turn 18; women are encouraged to volunteer for military service.1206 Advance recruits (16 and 17 years of age) with the consent of their legal guardians are allowed to sign up for military service.1207
Selection is determined by ballot; those who draw a white ball must serve in Units of the Army and Air Force while those who draw a blue ball must serve in the Navy. Those who draw a black ball are not enlisted but remain eligible for service.1208 The Mexican legislation does not recognise the right to conscientious objection, although the Military Service law authorises the Ministry of National Defence to exempt from such service those without the necessary requirements, including physical, moral and social.1209
Military service is fulfilled by attending weekly Saturday morning sessions. As alternatives to the regular drill sessions, recruits can choose any of the following three programs: social work (on behalf of local communities), promotion of physical education and sport, or teaching basic literacy. Recruits who cannot read or write receive literacy lessons during their military service. Young men living in the states of Morelos, Mexico and the Federal District can choose to be in barracks for three months and receive military training. Government officials have stated that the national military service is exclusively "of educational or military and/or technical training, which does not mean that they are being trained for subsequent interventions in wars or international conflicts".1210
Military Training and Military Schools
Mexico has 17 military schools that depend on the University of the Army and Air Force. The minimum entry age is 15 in schools that require applicants to have completed secondary education, and 16 in those requiring a baccalaureate.1211 It has been underlined by government officials that "this does not mean that they are trained for intervention in wars or in conflicts."1212
Various factors, including the emergence of armed opposition groups, have led to an increase in the formation of so-called "paramilitary" groups operating in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, amongst others. NGOs have identified at least 15 such groups.1213 These groups include private armies of local landowners, army surrogates armed by government forces to attack armed groups or community groups to defend specific political alliances or religious beliefs.
In July 1998 it was reported that some paramilitary groups train young people aged between 15 and 20, telling them that "they have to be prepared in order that, at anytime, they can be called for combat."1214
- Zapatista National Liberation Army / Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN)
It was not possible to confirm isolated reports of child soldiers in EZLN ranks.1215 In March 2001 the EZLN stated, via the internet and in response to questions from journalists, that there are no child combatants in the EZLN, i.e. there are no child soldiers, although "there are Zapatista children but they are part of the support groups [bases de apoyo]."1216 Throughout its communications the EZLN refers to "women, men, children and elders who are part of the EZLN".1217
- Popular Revolutionary Army / Ejército Popular Revolucionario (EPR) and Insurgent People's Revolutionary Amy / Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo Insurgente (ERPI)
Reports of minors within the ranks of the Ejército Popular Revolucionario (Popular Revolutionary Army, EPR) and the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo Insurgente (Insurgent People's Revolutionary Army, EPRI) could not be confirmed.1218 In early June 1998, it was reported that two of the 11 people killed in a military attack on alleged members of the in the state of Guerrero were minors, and that five of those detained were under-18.1219
- Other armed groups
There are reports of numerous other small, armed groups in Mexico. No information was available regarding their use of child soldiers.
Mexico signed the CRC-OP-AC on 7 September 2000 but does not uphold the "straight-18" position.
1204 Constitución Política de los Estados Unios Mexicanos.
1205 Ley del Servicio Militar, 11 September 1940 (available in: http://info4/juridicas/unam.mx).
1206 Secretaría de Defensa Nacional. www.sedena.gob.mx/sdn/smn/mujer.
1207 Secretaría de Defensa Nacional. www.sedena.gob.mx.
1209 Article 10 Ley del Servicio Militar y su reglamento. Source: United Nations, Economic and Social Council E/CN.4/2000/55.
1210 Information provided by the Mexican Ambassador to Uruguay, 6 July 1999.
1211 Reforma, 2 April 2001.
1212 Information given by the Mexican Ambassador to Uruguay, Latin American and Caribbean Conference on the Use of Children a Soldiers, 5/07/99.
1213 Global Exchange, CIEPAC, Cencos. Siempre cerca, siempre lejos: las fuerzas armadas en México. Mexico, 2000.
1214 Balboa, Juan, "Entrenan como paramilitares a 200 tzeltales: pobladores", La Jornada 31 July 1998.
1215 See http://www.rb.se and Cevallos, Diego, "Minors recruited by Army and Guerrillas", IPS, 2 July 1998.
1216 Preguntas frecuentes sobre coyuntura politica, 30 March 2001. http://www.ezln.org.
1218 See http://www.rb.se and Cevallos, Diego, "Minors recruited by Army and Guerrillas", IPS, 2 July 1998.
1219 Liga Mexicana de los Derechos Humanos, http://www.erechos.org/nizkor/mexico/limeddh/charco.html.