Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April 2014, 10:56 GMT

Issue Paper: Mexico Situation of Witnesses to Crime and Corruption, Women Victims of Violence and Victims of Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

Publisher Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date February 2007
Cite as Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Issue Paper: Mexico Situation of Witnesses to Crime and Corruption, Women Victims of Violence and Victims of Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, February 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/46d2ed512.html [accessed 23 April 2014]
Comments This document was prepared by the Research Directorate of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada on the basis of publicly available information, analysis and comment. All sources are cited. This document is not, and does not purport to be, either exhaustive with regard to conditions in the country surveyed or conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. For further information on current developments, please contact the Research Directorate.
DisclaimerThis 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.

MAP

Map of Mexico

Source: Cable News Network (CNN). 15 December 2003. "Map of Mexico ." [Accessed 9 Mar. 2005]

GLOSSARY

AFI Federal Investigation Agency (Agencia Federal de Investigacion)
CAVI Domestic Violence Assistance Centre (Centro de Atencion a la Violencia Intrafamiliar)
CENSIDA National Centre for the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS (Centro Nacional para la Prevencion y el Control del VIH/SIDA)
CDHDF Federal District Human Rights Commission (Comision de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal)
CDHFFV Fray Francisco de Vitoria Human Rights Centre (Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Francisco de Vitoria)
CIAC Citizens' Information and Services Centre (Centro de Informacion y Atencion a la Ciudadania)
CITCC Interministerial Commission for Transparency and the Fight Against Corruption in the Federal Public Service (Comision Intersecretarial para la Transparencia y el Combate a la Corrupcion en la Amdinistracion Publica Federal)
CMDPDH Mexican Commission for the Defence and Promotion of Human Rights (Comision Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos)
CNDH National Human Rights Commission (Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos)
CONAPRED National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination (Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminacion
DF Federal District (Distrito Federal)
FEVIM Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes of Violence Against Women (Fiscalia Especial para la Atencion de Delitos Relacionados con Actos de Violencia contra las Mujeres en el Pais)
IFE Federal Electoral Institute (Instituto Federal Electoral)
INACIPE National Institute for the Study of Criminal Sciences (Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Penales
INEGI National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Information Technology (Instituto de Estadistica, Geografia e Informatica)
INMUJERES National Institute for Women (Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres)
PGR Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (Procuraduria General de la Republica)
RENARAC National Network of Shelters (Red Nacional de Refugios)
SDHAVSC Office of the Deputy Attorney General for Human Rights, Victim Assistance and Community Services (Subprocuraduria de Derechos Humanos, Atencion a Victimas y Servicios a la Comunidad)
SEDESOL Ministry of Social Development (Secretaria de Desarrollo Social)
SEGOB Ministry of the Interior (Secretaria de Gobernacion)
SFP Ministry of the Public Service (Secretaria de la Funcion Publica)
SIAC Citizens' Information and Services Network (Sistema de Informacion y Atencion a la Ciudadania)
SIEDO Office of the Deputy Attorney General for Special Investigations into Organized Crime (Subprocuraduria de Investigacion Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada)
SSP Ministry of Public Security (Secretaria de Seguridad Publica)
SSP-DF Federal District Department of Public Security (Secretaria de Seguridad Publica del DF)
UAPVIF Domestic Violence Prevention and Care Units (Unidades de Atencion y Prevencion a la Violencia Familiar)

1. INTRODUCTION

In order to support Canada 's refugee determination system through the provision of reliable, up-to-date information on countries of origin, the Research Directorate of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) of Canada undertook a fact-finding mission to Mexico from 21 November to 1 December 2006. Mexico is an important source country of refugee claims for Canada, accounting for approximately 11 percent of all claims made in Canada between January 2002 and October 2006.

The aim of the mission was to address information gaps related to witnesses of crime and public sector corruption, women victims of violence, and victims of discrimination or violence based on sexual orientation. Most of the information cited in this report was obtained through personal interviews with interlocutors who are knowledgeable regarding one or more of the topics under examination. In several cases, interlocutors referred the Research Directorate to relevant written documentation that was also used in the preparation of this report. The Research Directorate met with officials and representatives of government authorities and human rights organizations based in the Federal District (Distrito Federal, DF - commonly referred to as Mexico City ). The majority of these organizations have a national mandate. For a list of the organizations, please refer to the section Notes on Oral Sources at the end of this report. Unless otherwise indicated, the information provided by the interlocutors reflects their opinion of the situation in Mexico in November 2006.

In accordance with the Research Directorate's policy of relying on publicly available information, interlocutors were advised that the information they provided would form the basis of a report on country conditions that would be publicly accessible and used by decision-makers adjudicating refugee claims in Canada. Furthermore, interlocutors were asked to consent to being cited by name for the information they provided.

In planning the fact-finding mission, the Research Directorate developed terms of reference that were used in the formulation of interview questions. The terms of reference were presented in summary form at the outset of each interview. The list of questions was then used as a guide, adaptable to the expertise of the individual being interviewed. The fact-finding mission terms of reference are reproduced in Appendix 1.

This report begins with an overview of the criminal justice system, the incidence of corruption and the status of government-funded assistance programs for victims of human rights violations and crime. The report then examines the situation of witnesses of crime and public sector corruption, women victims of violence, and victims of discrimination or violence based on sexual orientation, with particular reference to the existence of relevant legislation, the availability of state protection and the traceability of those facing threats, harassment or violence.

2. OVERVIEW

2.1 The criminal justice system

Mexico 's constitution forms the basis of its criminal justice system (Zamora et al 2004, 345). It provides for the establishment of a federal judiciary, a federal Office of the Public Prosecutor (Ministerio Publico) and basic rules for due process (ibid.). Criminal offences are dealt with in the Federal Penal Code (Codigo Penal Federal ) (ibid., 347; JSCA n.d., 272) and other federal laws, such as the Law Against Organized Crime (Ley Federal contra la Delincuencia Organizada ) (ibid.; Zamora et al 2004, 374). Notably, there are two jurisdictional levels for criminal law: federal and state (ibid., 347). In this context, the federal congress has the authority to define acts that constitute crimes against the federal government and outline the punishment for those crimes, while state legislatures have the same authority over acts not defined by congress as federal crimes (ibid., 347-348).

The federal-level public prosecutor's offices within the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (Procuraduria General de la Republica, PGR) are responsible for the investigation and prosecution of federal crimes, while state public prosecutor offices within state attorney general's offices (procuradurias de justicia ) are responsible for state-level crimes (ibid., 362). Offences that fall under exclusive federal jurisdiction are listed in Article 50 of the Organic Law of the Federal Judiciary (Ley Organica del Poder Judicial de la Federacion ) and include the following: crimes presented in federal laws and international agreements, offences committed by Mexican diplomatic officials overseas, crimes committed by federal public servants while at work, crimes committed against the federal government or a federal public servant, and offences that affect the functioning of a federal public service (ibid., 348). Any crime not listed in Article 50 is considered a state-level offence (ibid.).

An undated report by the United States (US) Embassy in Mexico City summarizes the basic steps involved in reporting and prosecuting crimes in Mexico (US n.d.; see also Zamora et al 2004, 362; JSCA n.d., 272). In the first stage, after an individual has reported a crime to a public prosecutor's office (Ministerio Publico), preferably in the judicial district where the crime occurred, the public prosecutor refers the case to the judicial police, which then decides whether an offence against Mexican law has been committed (US n.d.). If the judicial police have "probable cause" to believe that a particular individual committed the crime, they will try to arrest the suspect and hand him or her over to the public prosecutor's office (ibid.). If the judicial police successfully apprehend the suspect, the public prosecutor's office notifies the victim in writing (ibid.). However, the US Embassy notes that "[i]n actual practice, written notification, when made at all, may be delayed and can take several months" (ibid.).

In the second stage, the public prosecutor carries out a preliminary investigation (averguacion previa ) to establish whether the case should be prosecuted (Zamora et al 2004, 365; US n.d.). If the public prosecutor decides that sufficient evidence exists for prosecution, the case will be transferred to a judge (ibid.; JSCA n.d., 272). From the moment of arrest the judicial police and public prosecutor have between 48 and 72 hours to determine whether to prosecute the case, or the suspect must be freed (ibid.; US n.d.). Once a suspect is taken into custody, "the victim may be asked to identify the suspect in person and a process called a 'careo' [confrontation] may be conducted" (ibid.). The careo is a procedure in which "the victim is asked to confront the suspect and may be questioned directly by the suspect"; it occurs in the criminal court at the jailhouse where the suspect is held (ibid.). Also present at the careo are the judge, the public prosecutor, the victim's lawyer and the suspect's lawyer (ibid.).

At the prosecution stage, the judge has two to three days, excluding holidays and weekends, to begin a hearing to determine whether the suspect has "probable responsibility" for the crime (ibid.). The accused attends this hearing, at which time relevant evidence is presented, including the victim's signed statement relating the details of the crime (ibid.). Attendance at this hearing is not compulsory for the victim (ibid.). Once this hearing is over,

the judge has up to an additional 72 hours within which to make a finding of probable responsibility or release the detained subject. Depending on the crime, a person for whom probable responsibility has been established will either be held for trial or released on bond. There is no bond for those accused of committing violent crimes. In effect, the finding of probable responsibility begins the trial process. (ibid.)

The US Embassy indicates that trials in Mexico differ greatly from those in the US system; distinctive features include the practice of having multiple hearings over a lengthy time period, the absence of "live" testimony and argumentation, and the absence of juries (ibid.; see also Zamora et al 2004, 363-364). With respect to trial completion time limits, the judge has some flexibility depending on the nature of the sentence faced by the accused: four months if the maximum sentence for the crime is less than two years and up to one year if the maximum sentence is two years or more (US n.d.). In general, the judge should deliver a verdict about 15 working days after the final hearing (ibid.). Moreover, time already spent in prison by the accused is deducted from any prison sentence received (ibid.).

2.2 Corruption

According to Marco Antonio Mayorga Juarez, a professor and researcher specializing in corruption who works for the National Institute for the Study of Criminal Sciences (Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Penales, INACIPE), public sector corruption continues to be a source of concern for the authorities (INACIPE 29 Nov. 2006). Both Mayorga Juarez and Alfonso Castillo Garcia, a legal officer at the Fray Francisco de Vitoria Human Rights Centre (Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Francisco de Vitoria, CDHFFV) noted that many municipal and state-level law enforcement officers have minimal education, are poorly trained and receive low salaries, all of which increases the potential for taking bribes and engaging in other corrupt practices (ibid.; CDHFFV 28 Nov. 2006).

Octavio Diaz Garcia, Executive Secretary of the Ministry of the Public Service's (Secretaria de Funcion Publica, SFP) Interministerial Commission for Transparency and the Fight Against Corruption in the Federal Public Service (Comision Intersecretarial para la Transparencia y el Combate a la Corrupcion en la Administracion Publica Federal, CITCC) and Beatriz Gonzalez Dominguez, Director of International Cooperation at the PGR's Federal Investigation Agency (Agencia Federal de Investigacion, AFI) pointed to efforts to combat corruption in federal-level institutions (SFP 21 Nov. 2006; PGR 22 Nov. 2006a). Specifically, the PGR has undertaken significant reforms in order to address corruption (ibid. ), while the SFP, which is the federal government department responsible for monitoring corruption, now oversees 238 federal institutions across the country (SFP 21 Nov. 2006). In the first instance, the PGR conducts internal investigations, examinations and audits of all its officers at regular intervals (PGR 22 Nov. 2006a) . The results of these investigations may lead to a number of sanctions, including administrative penalties such as dismissal, or in the case of a criminal action, arrest and prosecution (ibid.). Criminal cases are turned over to the public prosecutor's office, whose personnel determine whether a crime has been committed (ibid.). Additional preventative initiatives to deter corruption at the PGR include psychological evaluation and drug testing, economic incentives for good performance, and education and training opportunities (ibid.).

Carlos Garduno, Director of International Affairs at the PGR's Office of the Deputy Attorney General for Human Rights, Victim Assistance and Community Services (Subprocuraduria de Derechos Humanos, Atencion a Victimas y Servicios a la Comunidad, SDHAVSC), indicated that the National Registry of Public Security Personnel (Registro Nacional de Personal de Seguridad Publica) is complete and contains the names of all municipal, state and federal police officers in Mexico (ibid. 21 Nov. 2006). The Mexican government suggests that the registry will help prevent individuals with criminal records from joining police forces (Mexico 1 Sept. 2006a). The registry enables authorities to conduct background checks for prior misconduct of officers and reportedly contains information on 481,899 active public security agents from across the country, as well as the names of 50,244 private security agents (ibid.).

According to the CITCC's Diaz Garcia, although the SFP's anti-corruption work focuses on prevention efforts, administrative sanctions are being consistently applied in order to eliminate corrupt behaviours on the part of federal public servants (SFP 21 Nov. 2006 ). From January 2000 to August 2006 more than 48,500 administrative sanctions, including suspensions, fines and dismissals, were handed out to 38,960 public servants in various federal departments across the country, the details of which were not provided (Mexico 1 Sept. 2006b, 613).

2.3 Avenues of recourse and victim assistance programs

According to Fernando Berzunza del Rio, Director General of Victim Services for the federal Ministry of Public Security's (Secretaria de Seguridad Publica, SSP) Citizens' Information and Services Centre (Centro de Informacion y Atencion a la Ciudadania, CIAC), and Ricardo Gluyas Millan, a professor and researcher at INACIPE, the underreporting of crime is a significant problem in Mexico (SSP 21 Nov. 2006; INACIPE 29 Nov. 2006). In recent years, federal law enforcement agencies have been taking steps to change this [translation] "culture of non-reporting" (cultura de no denuncia ) (SSP 21 Nov. 2006). Two initiatives designed to address this issue were the establishment of the SSP's Citizens' Information and Services Network (Sistema de Informacion y Atencion a la Ciudadania, SIAC) (ibid.) and the PGR's Services for Victims of Crime Branch (Direccion General de Atencion a Victimas del Delito) (PGR 21 Nov. 2006).

Established in December 2005, SIAC has adopted a 10-year plan aimed at fostering a [translation] "culture of reporting of crime" (cultura de denuncia ) and increasing citizens' confidence in public security agencies . This is being done by setting up CIACs in every city across the country (SSP 21 Nov. 2006 ). Each CIAC offers a number of services, including psychological assistance and crisis intervention, legal guidance, medical attention, social assistance, and referrals to public security agencies such as the public prosecutor's office (Ministerio Publico) and the preventative police (ibid.). While the primary mission of each CIAC is to help victims of crime, Berzunza del Rio noted that the centres are open to anyone who needs assistance; for example, individuals suffering from depression (ibid.). By November 2006, SIAC had two CIACs in operation in Mexico City and had signed agreements for the creation of centres in eight states: Aguascalientes, Coahuila, Guerrero, Michoacan, Morelos, Queretaro, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas, although no time frame was given as to when these would be operational (ibid.). From 1 January to 11 November 2006, the two Mexico CIACs served clients in 2,707 cases (ibid.).

The first client services centre of the PGR's Services for Victims of Crime Branch was created in August 2004 in Mexico City (PGR 21 Nov. 2006). The centre provides comprehensive support (i.e., psychological, legal and medical assistance) to victims of crime (ibid.). At the beginning of November 2006, the Services for Victims of Crime Branch had centres in four cities: Mexico City, Ciudad Juarez, Monterrey and Acapulco (ibid. 22 Nov. 2006b). Statistics show that the Mexico City centre handled more than 5,200 cases from August 2004 to November 2006, including 3,836 psychological counselling sessions (ibid.). In Ciudad Juarez, 5,775 cases were handled from April 2005 to November 2006, including 1,408 legal consultations and 1,649 medical exams (ibid.). The Monterrey centre dealt with 1,278 cases from September 2005 to November 2006 and the Acapulco centre 2,790 cases from November 2005 to November 2006 (ibid.). Two more centres opened on 14 November 2006: one in Morelia and one in Guadalajara (ibid.).

Beyond the services provided through SIAC and the PGR, the National Human Rights Commission (Comision Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH), state-level human rights commissions (comisiones estatales de derechos humanos, CEDHs) and, in Mexico City, the Federal District Human Rights Commission (Centro de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal, CDHDF) also offer avenues of recourse for some victims of human rights violations (CDHDF 28 Nov. 2006; CDHFFV 28 Nov. 2006). Established in 1990, the CNDH is an independent, federally funded institution whose mandate is to address complaints connected to human rights violations committed by federal public servants and authorities (CNDH 30 Nov. 2006). In general, the CNDH receives complaints, carries out investigations, mediates conflicts between complainants and allegedly abusive public authorities, and proposes non-binding recommendations (Zamora et al 2004, 224). According to Ricardo Bucio Mujica, Technical Secretary at the CDHDF, all human rights commissions provide recommendations when a particular human rights violation is serious, systemic and ongoing within a particular government institution (28 Nov. 2006). These recommendations are meant to highlight a human rights problem within the authority in question and offer direction on how this problem could be remedied (CDHDF 28 Nov. 2006). However,

the CNDH is expressly prohibited from reviewing judicial decisions, labour disputes, and acts and decisions of electoral officials. It has no legal power to compel government agencies to provide information to it, and the resolutions of the Commission may call for action, but the CNDH has no legal power of enforcement. (Zamora et al 2004, 225)

From 1 January to 31 December 2005, the CNDH registered 5,294 complaints (of which 2,915 were related to alleged human rights violations), received 26,427 telephone calls for assistance (of which 21,880 were for legal consultation), and provided service to 17,796 people who requested assistance in person at one of their offices (of which 6,874 resulted in referrals to other authorities and 5,995 were for legal consultation) (CNDH 31 Dec. 2005, Secs. II.1.A, II.1.B.b, II.1.C.a).

Within Mexico City, the CDHDF has the authority to address human rights abuses committed by Federal District public servants (CDHDF 28 Nov. 2006). Victims may file complaints using various methods; for example, by telephone, in person or by e-mail (ibid.). However, a victim who does not submit a complaint in person must go to one of the CDHDF offices within one week in order to confirm the grievance (ibid.). In 2005, the CDHDF registered 9,347 complaints, of which 8,074 were classified as alleged human rights violations; these figures represent an increase of 38 percent over the number of complaints received in 2004 (ibid. Apr. 2006a, 19). The majority of cases that did not qualify as human rights violations involved individuals who abandoned their complaint or whose complaint was found to be without merit (ibid. 28 Nov. 2006).

In 2004, a new federal institution called the National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination (Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminacion, CONAPRED) was created (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006). CONAPRED's mandate is to address all forms of discrimination committed by federal authorities and individuals, including private sector entities (ibid.). Among other responsibilities, CONAPRED provides recourse to victims of discrimination, including discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation (ibid.). CONAPRED also works on educational, research and public policy development to advance the country's prevention efforts and legal frameworks with regard to discrimination in all its forms (ibid.).

CONAPRED has a Directorate of Claims and Complaints (Direccion de Quejas y Reclamaciones), which investigates alleged discriminatory acts and applies administrative measures where necessary to remedy particular situations (ibid.). The Directorate also provides consultation services for those seeking information about discrimination (ibid.).

CONAPRED's complaints procedure follows a six-step process: 1) presentation of the claim or complaint; 2) initiation of a report; 3) communication with both parties inviting them to reconcile (conciliatory process); 4) pursuit of an investigation; 5) finalization of a resolution; and 6) application of administrative measures (ibid.). Administrative measures come into effect once both parties have signed a conciliatory agreement (ibid.). These measures may include, for instance, training courses on discrimination for public and private sector workers and the use of promotional posters to raise awareness within the organization where the complaint originated (ibid.). However, CONAPRED does not have the power to impose legally binding measures (ibid.).

The Directorate of Claims and Complaints employs 20 staff members, and according to Alejandro Becerra Gelover, Director of Outreach and International Affairs at CONAPRED, additional individuals need to be hired in order to keep up with the workload (ibid.). Complaints can be made in person, by telephone or by e-mail; however, complaints must be confirmed in writing with the signature or fingerprint and contact information of the complainant within five working days (ibid. 2006b, 20). In 2004, its first year of existence, the Directorate received 758 requests for assistance, of which 569 were for consultation and guidance services, such as referrals to other organizations, and 189 involved complaints of alleged discrimination (ibid. May 2005, 11). In 2005, the Directorate received 1,981 requests for assistance, of which 1,536 were for consultation and guidance services, and 445 involved complaints (ibid. 2006b, 21). From January to April 2006, the last period for which data were available, the Directorate handled 1,054 requests for assistance, of which 783 were for consultation and guidance services, and 271 involved complaints (ibid. June 2006, 7)

3. WITNESSES OF CRIME AND PUBLIC SECTOR CORRUPTION

3.1 Recourse for witnesses of public sector corruption

The Federal Law of Public Servants' Responsibilities (Ley Federal de Responsabilidades de Servidores Publicos ) outlines administrative recourse available to federal employees wishing to report corruption (SFP 21 Nov. 2006). Federal public servants can report incidents of corruption to their respective Internal Monitoring Authority (Organo Interno de Control, OIC); there are OIC offices within all federal government departments (ibid.). Complaints can be made anonymously by post, e-mail, or telephone, or through the Internet, and the resulting investigation may lead to administrative sanctions, such a suspension or fine, if the complainant's allegations are substantiated (ibid.). However, it should be noted that the OIC is not a law enforcement agency, and any criminal matter would be referred to the appropriate public prosecutor's office (Ministerio Publico) (ibid.).

Concerning witness protection for public servants reporting corruption, CITCC Executive Secretary Octavio Diaz Garcia noted that while these individuals do not have access to a formal witness protection program, the SFP can make use of administrative measures such as moving the witness or complainant to another position within the public service (ibid.).

Public servants who become aware of corruption involving criminal activities can file a complaint with the PGR (ibid.). In this context, Fernando Blumenkron Escobar, Director General of the PGR's SDHAVSC's Services for Victims of Crime Branch, stated that witnesses can also be referred to more specialized units within the PGR, depending on the nature of the allegations involved (PGR 21 Nov. 2006). For example, witnesses of incidents related to organized crime are able to seek protection through the PGR's Office of the Deputy Attorney General for Special Investigations into Organized Crime (Subprocuraduria de Investigacion Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada, SIEDO ) (ibid.). In addition, the PGR's Office of the Inspector General (Visitaduria General) receives and investigates all complaints of alleged acts of corruption committed by federal PGR employees (ibid. 24 Nov. 2006; ibid. 22 Nov. 2006a). Beatriz Gonzalez Dominguez, AFI Director of International Cooperation, also noted that all AFI employees face a surprise audit once per year to assess whether their work is up to standard and check for irregularities (ibid.).

In the Federal District, individuals wishing to report police corruption can file a complaint with Internal Affairs (Asuntos Internos) or the Internal Controller (Contraloria Interna) of the Federal District Department of Public Security (Secretaria de Seguridad Publica del Distrito Federal, SSP-DF) (SSP-DF 22 Nov. 2006). They can also submit a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) or the Federal District Human Rights Commission (CDHDF) (ibid.; CDHDF 28 Nov. 2006). From 1 March 2004 to 15 March 2005, 796 human rights complaints were made against the SSP-DF (SSP-DF Feb. 2005). Of these, 80.2 percent were filed by the CDHDF, 2.8 percent by the CNDH, and 16.8 percent were reported directly to the SSP-DF (ibid.).

3.2 Protection for witnesses of crime

Jorge Rosas Garcia, head of SIEDO's Kidnapping Unit (Unidad de Secuestros) and Ricardo Gluyas Millan, a researcher and professor of criminology at INACIPE, both stated that a formal witness protection program exists only for cases involving organized criminal activity (PGR 24 Nov. 2006; INACIPE 29 Nov. 2006). The provisions for such protection are outlined in the 1996 Federal Law on Organized Crime (Ley Federal contra la Delincuencia Organizada ) (ibid.; CDHFFV 28 Nov. 2006). This law applies to activities like drug and arms trafficking, counterfeit money operations, kidnapping, highway robbery, terrorism and human trafficking (PGR 24 Nov. 2006).

Persons wishing to access SIEDO's witness protection program may do so at local PGR offices, of which there is at least one in every state in the country (ibid.). In order to obtain witness protection, an individual must first file a complaint, either in person at SIEDO or anonymously by telephone or letter, indicating that he or she witnessed an organized crime incident (ibid.). A preliminary investigation is then carried out by SIEDO to ascertain the veracity of the complaint; this is done as covertly as possible, using field techniques such as surveillance (ibid.). While the federal public prosecutor's office is responsible for managing the request for witness protection, issuing search warrants and authorizing telephone tapping, SIEDO is responsible for coordinating the witness protection program itself (ibid.). To this end, SIEDO can call upon the assistance of other federal law enforcement agencies as necessary (PGR 24 Nov. 2006).

The Federal Law on Organized Crime addresses two types of situations in which a witness may require protection (ibid.). First, it aims to assist individuals such as judges and victims of organized crime who fear reprisals, and second, it offers protection to criminal informants, also known as [translation] "collaborative witnesses" (testigos colaborantes ) (ibid.), who have, for example, provided information leading to the arrest and incarceration of drug cartel leaders and their subordinates (INACIPE 29 Nov. 2006). In both cases, SIEDO will place witnesses entering the program in safe houses, which can be rented houses or hotel rooms (PGR 24 Nov. 2006), or in some cases military bases (INACIPE 29 Nov. 2006).

Individuals may also request witness protection from the federal, state or Federal District human rights commissions (ibid.; PGR 24 Nov. 2006). For example, Rosas Garcia described the case of an individual in Sonora who had petitioned the CNDH for protection (ibid.). The CNDH then sought assistance from SIEDO, whose agents travelled to Sonora to pick up the witness and put him under their protection (ibid.). According to Rosas Garcia, more than 100 collaborative witnesses were placed under protection between 1996 and 2006 (ibid.). However, he could not provide any additional details regarding the background of those receiving protection due to security concerns (ibid.). Gluyas Millan stated that in 2002 there were 95 witnesses in the federal program (INACIPE 29 Nov. 2006). He also claimed that the program has been successful in helping federal law enforcement officials dismantle major drug-trafficking gangs and prosecute key leaders (ibid.).

Individuals wishing to leave the witness protection program may do so, although they must sign and submit a written declaration to this effect (PGR 24 Nov. 2006). Once they leave the program, they no longer receive any police protection (ibid.).

With regard to witness protection in cases unrelated to organized crime, Rosas Garcia noted that Article 20 of Mexico's constitution names the protection of victims and offenders as a fundamental guarantee of the state (ibid.; Mexico Aug. 2005, 32-39). Fernando Castillo Diaz, Executive Director for Human Rights at the SSP-DF, which is the department responsible for the municipal preventative police for Mexico City, indicated that the public prosecutor's office is responsible for providing protection as necessary (SSP-DF 22 Nov. 2006). In this context, crime witnesses can access protection measures (SEGOB 23 Nov. 2006; CDHFFV 28 Nov. 2006). Using the example of a human rights defender facing threats, Rodrigo Espeleta Aladro, Assistant Director General for Research and Case Services of the Ministry of the Interior's (Secretaria de Gobernacion, SEGOB) Unit for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (Unidad para la Promocion y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos) noted that such an individual may request protection at his office, at the offices of the CNDH, or at a state-level or Federal District human rights commission (SEGOB 23 Nov. 2006; CDHFFV 28 Nov. 2006). Once the request is filed and accepted, the matter is referred to the PGR or the appropriate state attorney general's office, which then decides what protection measures should be applied (SEGOB 23 Nov. 2006). These measures usually consist of assigning bodyguards, providing cell phones containing emergency numbers, installing cameras to monitor entrances of houses and arranging for police patrols (ibid.).

In a written report, the CNDH indicates that in 2005 it received 21 separate requests for protection related to human rights cases involving 14 federal, state and municipal authorities (31 Dec. 2005, Sec. II.1.B.d). However, the report does not specify what action was taken in response to these requests (CNDH 31 Dec. 2005). In the Federal District (DF), in 2005, the CDHDF forwarded 5,008 requests for protection to various institutions of the government of the DF, with more than 80 percent of requests going to the three central departments responsible for governance (including the prison system) (1,966 requests), law enforcement (1,097 requests) and health (1,036 requests) respectively (CDHDF Apr. 2006a, App. 1). Again, information on any formal actions arising from these requests was not provided (ibid.).

SEGOB's Espeleta Aladro indicated that, in November 2006, 22 individuals were receiving protection arising from 5 requests from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, while a further 174 individuals were receiving protection as a result of 12 requests from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) (23 Nov. 2006). Espeleta did not provide additional details concerning these cases because of confidentiality concerns (SEGOB 23 Nov. 2006).

For police officers who witness a crime, authorities may provide protection measures such as bodyguards, depending on the type of crime and level of risk (PGR 24 Nov. 2006). Other measures that may be taken include reassignment of the officer to a different position or another work location (ibid.). The specific measures would be determined following an evaluation carried out by the officer's superiors (ibid.). According to SIEDO's Rosas Garcia, there have been few instances of police officers requesting protection (ibid.).

Although SEGOB's Espeleta Aladro claimed that protection measures were effective in safeguarding individuals at risk (SEGOB 23 Nov. 2006), Maria del Mar Monroy, Advocacy Coordinator of the Mexican Commission for the Defence and Promotion of Human Rights (Comision Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de Derechos Humanos, CMDPDH), provided examples from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua in which authorities failed to safeguard individuals under protection (CMDPDH 27 Nov. 2006). In one case, a lawyer receiving protection ordered by the IACHR in 2002 was killed in January 2006 by unknown assailants (ibid.). In another case from 2004, girls who were witnesses in a youth prostitution case involving an official from the state attorney general's office were allegedly threatened by the police officers assigned to protect them; however, details of this investigation could not be provided by the CMDPDH for reasons of confidentiality (ibid.).

3.3 Traceability of individuals fleeing violent situations

Of all the interlocutors interviewed, none was aware of incidents in which witnesses to crime and corruption were located by their aggressors through the use of government databases or registries (CDHFFV 28 Nov. 2006; PGR 21 Nov. 2006; ibid. 22 Nov. 2006a; ibid. 24 Nov. 2006). In particular, SIEDO's Rosas Garcia, the AFI's Gonzalez Dominguez and the SDHAVSC's Garduno were unaware of any cases in which national registries, such as the Federal Electoral Institute (Instituto Federal Electoral, IFE) database, had been used to track individuals who had relocated to avoid detection by criminal groups (ibid. 21 Nov. 2006; ibid. 22 Nov. 2006a; ibid. 24 Nov. 2006). According to the SFP's Diaz Garcia, although much work has been done to improve the level of content within national registries such as the IFE, a comprehensive personal identification database is still lacking in Mexico (21 Nov. 2006). The two most important national registries are the IFE database, which contains, among other things, the addresses of individuals, and the Population Registry's Single Code (Clave Unica de Registro de Poblacion, CURP) database, which features individuals' dates of birth (SFP 21 Nov. 2006).

Public access to national registries, including the IFE database, is prohibited by law (PGR 21 Nov. 2006; ibid. 22 Nov. 2006a). Furthermore, federal police officers can only gain access to the IFE database with a court order and the written permission of the public prosecutor's office (ibid. 21 Nov. 2006). In the case of the government's passport database, federal law enforcement agencies such as the AFI can gain access to it, although they must first submit a request in writing to the corresponding public prosecutor's office (ibid. 22 Nov. 2006a).

According to SIEDO's Rosas Garcia, it is much easier to locate individuals by seeking information from family members or friends than through government registries (PGR 24 Nov. 2006). In addition, Rosas Garcia and the CDHFFV's Castillo Garcia both noted that the publicly accessible national housing registry may provide another means of tracking individuals, although neither was aware of cases in which the registry had been used in this way (ibid.; CDHFFV 28 Nov. 2006). Rosas Garcia noted that it would only be a feasible method if the targeted individual had registered a property in it (PGR 24 Nov. 2006).

4. WOMEN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE

4.1 Situation

Interlocutors from the National Network of Shelters (Red Nacional de Refugios, RENARAC), the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes of Violence Against Women (Fiscalia Especial para la Atencion de Delitos Relacionados con Actos de Violencia contra las Mujeres en el Pais, FEVIM), the National Institute for Women (Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres, INMUJERES), the CMDPDH and INACIPE indicated that violence against women, including domestic and sexual violence, poses a significant challenge for Mexican authorities, both because information on the incidence of violence is lacking and because such violence is not addressed effectively by many law enforcement agencies (RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006; CMDPDH 27 Nov. 2006; PGR 30 Nov. 2006; INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006), particularly at the municipal and state level (RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006). As such, interlocutors were unable to provide an evidence-based portrait of violence against women given the lack of comprehensive, reliable statistical data (ibid.; PGR 30 Nov. 2006; INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006; CMDPDH 27 Nov. 2006).

Nevertheless, some studies have been carried out in recent years to address this lack of information, including one requested by the Mexican congress from the Special Commission to Understand and Monitor Investigations Related to Femicides in Mexico and Corresponding Access to Justice (Comision Especial para Conocer y Dar Seguimiento a las Investigaciones Relacionadas con los Feminicidios en la Republica Mexicana y a la Procuracion de Justicia Vinculada) (ibid.; PGR 30 Nov. 2006). Media sources in Mexico report that the Commission's study revealed statistics from the Federal District and the states of Mexico, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Baja California, Chihuahua, Morelos, Sonora, Chiapas and Veracruz indicating there were more than 6,000 homicides of women and girls between 1999 and 2005 (Criterios 18 May 2006; La Jornada 19 May 2006). Of the 10 regions studied, the highest incidence of violent deaths of women and girls was in the state of Mexico between 2000 and 2003, when 1,288 deaths were registered (ibid.; Criterios 18 May 2006). The statistics used in the Commission's report, which do not differentiate between women and girls, were drawn from the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Information Technology (Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, Geografia e Informatica, INEGI), state-level attorney general's offices and the Federal District's forensic medicine service (ibid.). Comparatively, government statistics published in a report by the Mexico City-based Citizen's Institute for the Study of Lawlessness (Instituto Ciudadano de Estudios sobre la Inseguridad, ICESI) indicate that the total number of homicides reported from 1999 to 2005 for the ten states mentioned in the Commission's study was 117,590. Furthermore, nationwide statistics demonstrate a gradual decline in homicides reported, from 33,242 murders in 1999 to 25,815 in 2005 (ICESI n.d.).

Another study referred to by interlocutors from INMUJERES was the 2003 National Survey on the Dynamics of Household Relationships (Encuesta Nacional sobre la Dinamica de las Relaciones en los Hogares 2003, ENDIREH) (INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006). This study involved a poll of 57,000 households across 11 states to investigate the scope and form of violence women faced living with their partners (INEGI/INMUJERES/UNIFEM 25 Nov. 2004). The study was conducted by INMUJERES and INEGI, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the results were published on 14 March 2004 (ibid.). Overall results from the survey show that thirty-eight percent of female respondents stated that they had suffered emotional violence, including insults, threats, intimidation and humiliation; nine percent stated that they had experienced physical violence, including hitting, pushing and assault with a weapon; and eight percent had faced sexual violence, such as unwanted sex (ibid.). The report also notes that 18 percent of women interviewed who claimed to have experienced physical or sexual violence had sought assistance from the authorities (ibid.).

INMUJERES reports that the 2003 National Survey on Violence Against Women (Encuesta Nacional sobre Violencia contra las Mujeres, ENVIM), produced by the Ministry of Health (Secretaria de Salud), concluded that approximately 20 percent of women had experienced some form of physical aggression from their spouses within the 12 months previous to being interviewed (Nov. 2005, 32).

4.2 Legislative framework

Luz Maria Garcia, Director of Human Rights and Justice at INMUJERES, Margarita Guille Tamayo, Director of RENARAC, and Maria del Mar Monroy Garcia, Advocacy Coordinator at the CMDPDH, all stated that Mexico's legislative framework for addressing acts of violence against women is complex, multi-layered and differs from state to state (CMDPDH 27 Nov. 2006; RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006; INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006). For example, the Federal District has a broad range of legislation outlawing domestic violence and sexual abuse, while some states have minimal legal protection for victims of gender-based violence (ibid.). INMUJERES has conducted extensive work on identifying differences in state legislation related to violence against women, particularly in the area of domestic violence (ibid.; ibid. Oct. 2006). In an analysis of four main legislative areas related to domestic violence, INMUJERES indicates that in October 2005, 27 out of 31 states plus the Federal District (DF) had laws aimed at preventing domestic violence, 20 states and the DF had civil codes that categorize domestic violence as grounds for divorce, 26 states and the DF classified domestic violence as a crime, and 12 states and the DF characterized spousal rape as a crime (INMUJERES Nov. 2005, 27). Please refer to Appendix 2 of this paper for a state-by-state overview of laws in these four areas.

In addition to variations among states, another feature of gender violence laws in Mexico is that they cut across administrative, civil and criminal areas of law (INMUJERES Oct. 2006; FIDH Apr. 2006, 9). The challenge under these circumstances is that all states apply these three areas of law differently with varying levels of effectiveness (INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006). For example, administrative laws generally provide for preventative measures that include assistance and therapy programs for victims and offenders (Oct. 2006, 82-83; PGJDF 24 Nov. 2006), along with conciliation programs that require the abusive partner to sign an agreement of non-violence (INMUJERES Oct. 2006, 95). These laws are applied by a variety of entities that differ from state to state (ibid., see also FIDH Apr. 2006, 9). In some states, administrative measures are overseen by the Network of Family Development Agencies (Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia, DIF) (ibid.; INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006), while in the Federal District there are specialized agencies called Domestic Violence Prevention and Care Units (Unidades de Atencion y Prevencion a la Violencia Familiar, UAPVIF) that not only provide legal services, but psychological assistance and referrals to shelters as well (PGJDF 24 Nov. 2006; see also FIDH Apr. 2006, 9).

INMUJERES, in collaboration with civil society groups, is lobbying the federal government to harmonize gender violence legislation so that all states offer the same level of protection to women and children who are victims of violence (INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006). However, efforts to secure congressional support remain stalled while a sponsor for a [translation] "framework law" (ley marco ) is sought (ibid.).

4.3 State protection efforts

In line with priorities established in the INMUJERES-led National Program for a Life Without Violence 2002-2006 (Programa Nacional por una Vida sin Violencia 2002-2006), a number of measures to assist women victims of violence have been adopted (INMJUERES 30 Nov. 2006). An initiative that began in 1999 and has gained support from the federal government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international donors is the National Network of Shelters (Red Nacional de Refugios, RENARAC) for women fleeing violence (RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006; INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006). Starting with 4 shelters, the network grew to 44 shelters in 26 states and the Federal District by November 2006 (ibid.; RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006). Of these, 32 are operated by NGOs and 12 by government agencies (ibid.; INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006). Although RENARAC is an NGO, it receives federal government funding from the Ministry of Health (Secretaria de Salud) and the Ministry of Social Development (Secretaria de Desarrollo Social, SEDESOL), as well as financial support from international organizations such as UNIFEM and private companies like Mary Kay and Motorola (ibid.; RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006). Many of the shelters within the network are small, and their combined bed capacity is about 1,300 (ibid.). The shelters offer numerous support services, including legal consultation, and women and children are allowed to stay for a period of up to three months (ibid.). As of November 2006, the states of Mexico, Baja California Sur, Colima, Guerrero and Nayarit did not have any shelters linked to the national network, while other states, such as Coahuila, had more than one (INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006). Please refer to Appendix 3 for a list of states with either governmental or non-governmental shelters participating in the network.

In February 2006, FEVIM was created (ibid.; PGR 25 Nov. 2006, 3) in order to promote social and institutional change in all three levels of government in terms of the way they address violence against women (ibid., 2). An important part of FEVIM's mandate is to collaborate with state-level attorney general's offices to improve their investigative practices for gender-based crimes (ibid., 8). FEVIM also provides direct assistance to the public through a telephone service, a mobile assistance program and regional offices located in 11 states and the DF (ibid., 9). Between February and November 2006, FEVIM's regional offices dealt with 165 cases, the mobile service dealt with 63 cases, and the telephone program received 72 calls for assistance from victims (ibid., 9). Of all the cases handled by FEVIM during this period, 71 percent were related to domestic violence, 9 percent sexual violence, 10 percent labour disputes and 3 percent psychological violence (ibid., 9). In November 2006, FEVIM employed approximately 160 individuals, based primarily in its principal offices located in Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua ), Mexico City and Tapachula (Chiapas ) (PGR 30 Nov. 2006).

According to INMUJERES's Maria Garcia, although specialized training for law enforcement officers on how to address gender violence has been limited, some efforts are underway within federal agencies (INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006). For example, FEVIM has begun offering specialized courses in 10 states for public prosecutor personnel and federal and Federal District police officers (PGR 30 Nov. 2006). The PGR has also established a roundtable to examine issues around justice, equity and gender, including violence against women, as they relate to the work of its national and state-level employees (INMUJERES July 2006, 27). In addition, the PGR has carried out training and awareness-raising sessions on gender-based violence for its field agents, public prosecutors, experts and senior managers (ibid.). In September and October 2005, INMUJERES delivered three workshops to 154 public prosecutor officials from the states of Yucatan, Puebla and Michoacan (Mexico 1 Sept. 2006c).

Training has also been given to medical staff regarding Official Regulation NOM-190-SSA11999, which establishes minimum standards governing health care workers' ability to recognize and report domestic violence cases to the appropriate authorities (INMUJERES July 2006, 28). For example, the Mexican Institute for Social Insurance (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, IMSS) conducted training sessions in 24 of its regional offices, which cover 65 percent of the IMSS's national operations (ibid.). The IMSS also organizes support groups for perpetrators and victims of domestic violence, and while usage statistics for this service are limited, 43,736 individuals were reportedly offered support group services in 2003 (ibid.).

Another avenue of assistance for women victims of violence is the INMUJERES Phone Line for a Life without Violence (Linea Telefonica por una Vida sin Violencia) (ibid. 30 Nov. 2006), which provides, among other services, psychological and legal assistance, and referrals; the hotline has seen increasing use since its inception in January 2003 (ibid. July 2006, 22). According to INMJUERES, the hotline received 11,396 calls in 2004, of which 4,031 were from individuals reporting physical violence and 1,574 sexual violence (ibid.). From January to October 2005, the most recent period for which data are available, hotline staff attended to more than 11,760 calls, and November 2005 saw a 540 percent increase in calls after an INMUJERES publicity campaign (ibid.). In addition, the PGR offers a toll-free telephone service (01-800-MUJERTEL-PGR) for female victims of violence wishing to access psychological support, legal advice or referral services (ibid., 23).

Women who believe their human rights have been violated by a public servant can file a complaint either with the CNDH, for cases involving federal employees (CNDH 30 Nov. 2006), or with a state human rights commission, for cases involving state-level public servant (CDHDF 28 Nov. 2006).

For acts of discrimination committed against women, victims can contact CONAPRED to file a complaint, no matter where the act of discrimination occurred (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006). CONAPRED processed 13 cases involving gender-related discrimination in 2004 (ibid. May 2005, 13) and 22 in 2005 (ibid. 2006b, 23), the last year for which data were available. With regard to the 2004 complaints, 11 were made by women claiming they had been discriminated against for being pregnant, and 2 claiming gender discrimination (ibid. May 2005, 13). In 2005, 21 of the complaints alleged discrimination based on pregnancy while the remainder alleged gender discrimination (ibid. 2006b, 23). A 2004 case involving discrimination based on pregnancy provides an example of how CONAPRED handles complaints. In this instance, a woman claimed that an institution had refused to provide her with promised funding because she was pregnant (ibid. May 2005, 15). As a result of CONAPRED's intervention, the institution agreed to take part in a conciliation process and subsequently issued a public apology, provided the funding and signed an agreement with CONAPRED to adopt a non-discrimination policy (ibid.).

4.3.1 Effectiveness of protection efforts

Regarding the effectiveness of protection available to women victims of violence, interlocutors from both governmental and non-governmental organizations stated that evaluation efforts are relatively new and statistical information on, for example, the effectiveness of law enforcement and shelters in meeting the needs of victims could not be provided (INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006; PGR 30 Nov. 2006; CMDPDH 27 Nov. 2006). In its June 2006 report on violence against women in Mexico, Amnesty International also laments the "serious lack of reliable data gathered from criminal justice agencies" in order to evaluate government efforts to address gender violence (1 June 2006). Nevertheless, a number of interlocutors offered opinions based on their own research and experience in the field. For example, RENARAC's Guille Tamayo and CMDPDH's Monroy Garcia noted that shelter space was generally insufficient to address the needs of victims fleeing violent situations (RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006; CMDPDH 27 Nov. 2006).

According to Katherine Mendoza Bautista, Coordinator of Specialized Projects at INACIPE, Guille Tamayo and Monroy Garcia, while a number of laws have been adopted to combat violence against women, a gap exists between legal initiatives and actual practice, especially regarding the performance of municipal law enforcement agencies (INACIPE 29 Nov. 2006; RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006; CMDPDH 27 Nov. 2006). For example, municipal preventative police, for the most part, are not trained to address domestic violence and their response to crisis situations is limited by their lack of knowledge of laws concerning spousal abuse (RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006; INACIPE 29 Nov. 2006). Guille Tamayo and INMUJERES's Maria Garcia also stated that municipal law enforcement agencies lack specialized police units set up exclusively to address gender-based violence (RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006; INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006).

An issue that complicates the reporting of violence is that many women do not follow through on complaints to the public prosecutor (Ministerio Publico) because they believe that staff at these offices (mainly lawyers and other public servants) tend to be insensitive or indifferent to victims of gender violence (INACIPE 29 Nov. 2006; INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006; CMDPDH 27 Nov. 2006). INACIPE's Mendoza Bautista noted that public prosecutor officials sometimes try to discourage women from registering a complaint as they believe the victim will withdraw charges following a reconciliation with her partner (29 Nov. 2006). In addition, according to INMUJERES's Maria Garcia and David Ordaz Hernandez, a professor and researcher at INACIPE, the complaint process at the public prosecutor's office is lengthy, in some cases taking an entire working day (INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006; INACIPE 29 Nov. 2006). RENARAC's Guille Tamayo also stated that staff at the public prosecutor's offices are regularly overloaded with work (27 Nov. 2006). Nevertheless, in the Federal District, public prosecutor personnel will routinely refer victims of gender-based crimes to specialized agencies that can better assist them, such as the Domestic Violence Assistance Centre (Centro de Atencion a la Violencia Intrafamiliar, CAVI) (PGJDF 24 Nov. 2006).

Another issue of concern mentioned by the CMDPDH's Monroy Garcia and RENARAC's Guille Tamayo was the limited use of protection measures issued by judges for women facing domestic violence (CMDPDH 27 Nov. 2006; RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006). According to INACIPE's Mendoza Bautista, protection measures must be requested in writing and take at least 15 days to obtain (29 Nov. 2006).

Staff interviewed at national human rights organizations referred to examples of ongoing tolerance of negligent and abusive practices by law enforcement officers in the area of gender-based violence, including the response to the killings and disappearances of numerous women in Ciudad Juarez, and human rights violations experienced by women at the hands of police during public security crises in San Salvador Atenco, state of Mexico and in Oaxaca in 2006 (CMDPDH 27 Nov. 2006; Centro PRODH 1 Dec. 2006). In particular, Irasema Zavaleta, Coordinator of International Relations at the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Centre (Centro De Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez, Centro PRODH), claimed that a number of female activists arrested at the San Salvador Atenco demonstrations were sexually harassed by male police officers, and that as of 1 December 2006, no officer had been charged in connection with this incident (1 Dec. 2006). According to FEVIM Special Prosecutor Perez Duarte y Norona, despite state efforts to modernize its protective institutions, much work still needs to be done to sensitize and train state and municipal law enforcement agencies on how to address violence against women (PGR 30 Nov. 2006).

4.3.2 The Federal District

Within the Federal District (DF), the CDHDF received 46,607 human rights complaints in 2005 (CDHDF Apr. 2006a, 89). According to CDHDF Technical Secretary Bucio Mujica, 80 percent of calls made to the CDHDF were related to domestic violence incidents (28 Nov. 2006). Except in cases where the perpetrator was a public servant, domestic violence complaints technically fall outside of the CDHDF's jurisdiction (CDHDF 28 Nov. 2006). Consequently, as a matter of practice the CDHDF refers complainants in these cases to other, more specialized institutions, such as the UAPVIFs (ibid.).

According to statistics from the Registry for Statistics on Domestic Violence in the Federal District (Sistema de Registro de Informacion Estadistica de Violencia Familiar en el Distrito Federal), of the 65,457 persons who sought assistance in the DF for domestic violence-related issues in 2004, 55 percent were assisted by the UAPVIF network, 19 percent by the DF Deputy Prosecutor for Crime Victim and Community Services (Subprocuraduria de Atencion a Victimas del Delito y Servicios a la Comunidad), 18 percent by the Federal District Department of Health (Secretaria de Salud del Distrito Federal, SSDF) and the remainder by one of five other entities, such as INMUJERES-DF or the CDHDF (CDHDF Apr. 2006b, 40).

The CAVI is a government-run centre operating from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federal District (Procuraduria General de Justicia del Distrito Federal, PGJDF) (PGJDF 24 Nov. 2006). According to the Centre's Director, Amada Dominguez Adame, CAVI has been offering comprehensive services, including psychological, legal, medical and social assistance, since it opened in 1990 (ibid.). Although CAVI provides services to all victims of domestic violence, 89 percent of clients seen by the organization are women (ibid.). Each year, on average, CAVI helps 22,000 individuals (ibid.). In addition, CAVI refers women to shelters, of which there are three in the DF that can accommodate up to 150 individuals in total (ibid.). There are also 15 temporary [translation] "open-door" (puertas abiertas ) shelters, which normally allow for a maximum one-night stay, although longer stays can be arranged with special permission (ibid.).

CAVI also assists women in filing complaints with the public prosecutor's office (Ministerio Publico) (ibid.). In this context, Dominguez Adame and Alfredo Camacho Manrique, PGJDF Director General of Services for Victims of Crime, provided a summary of how domestic violence complaints are handled in the Federal District (ibid.). Complaints can be lodged at a public prosecutor's office 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and victims can call a special telephone number to locate the nearest office (ibid.). The public prosecutor is obligated to initiate a preliminary investigation for all domestic violence complaints, even if the woman is unmarried or does not exhibit visible injuries (ibid.). The use of mediation to resolve a situation is now rare, and criminal proceedings are more common (ibid.). If an aggressor has been ordered by a judge to enter therapy but does not do so, the aggressor can be arrested, and if the public prosecutor finds there are sufficient grounds, the aggressor can be prosecuted as well (ibid.). Camacho Manrique also mentioned that if a woman withdraws a complaint after reconciling with her aggressor, the case is suspended, but her file remains active and she can later restart the legal process at the stage at which it was left (ibid.).

4.4 Traceability of women fleeing violent situations

On the question of whether a woman facing threats from a former spouse or partner could successfully relocate to another part of the country, Araceli Vasquez Alarcon, Assistant Director of Monitoring of Public Policy on Security and Justice at INMUJERES, and RENARAC's Guille Tamayo indicated that relocation would depend on the profile of the aggressor and would be less risky if the woman had accessed the shelter system (INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006; RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006). According to Luisa Perez Escovedo, the head of Comprehensive Advocacy Services at Centro PRODH, and RENARAC's Guille Tamayo, women fleeing men in positions of power, such as drug traffickers and high-ranking public servants or military personnel, would face a higher risk of being found, although they could not provide any examples of such cases (Centro PRODH 1 Dec. 2006; RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006). Guille Tamayo also stated that she was aware instances in which an abusive police officer appeared at the shelter where his spouse was staying, even though information concerning the location of shelters is kept confidential (ibid). INMUJERES's Maria Garcia similarly noted that shelter addresses are considered confidential and even INMUJERES staff is not given access to this information (30 Nov. 2006).

In instances where a woman is deemed to be at higher risk of being traced by her former spouse or partner, she can be moved from one shelter to another or from state to state (INMUJERES 30 Nov. 2006; RENARAC 27 Nov. 2006). In the majority of these cases, shelter employees or other volunteers take charge of the transfer, which Guille Tamayo described as a potentially high-risk task for those involved (ibid.). However, according to INMUJERES's Vasquez Alarcon, in some states, such as Nuevo Leon, police have assisted shelters in moving women and their children to another shelter (30 Nov. 2006).

Regarding the traceability of women fleeing their partners, while INACIPE's Katherine Mendoza Bautista and FEVIM's Perez Duarte y Norona believed that aggressors could track women using various methods, such as school registries, they did not have information on the extent to which such tracking occurred in practice (INACIPE 29 Nov. 2006; PGR 30 Nov. 2006 ). According to CAVI Director Dominguez Adame, while she has heard anecdotes of aggressors searching for and finding victims using government databases like the school registries, she had herself only encountered one such case in her five years with CAVI (PGJDF 24 Nov. 2006). Dominguez Adame explained that, in her experience, aggressors were more likely to contact the family members of their former wives or girlfriends when attempting to locate them (ibid.). Perez Duarte y Norona also cited a case in which a woman was allegedly tracked by her aggressor using a school registry after relocating to another region of the country to avoid detection (PGR 30 Nov. 2006). Nevertheless, for reasons of confidentiality, Perez Duarte y Norona could not provide additional details regarding this case or other similar ones (ibid.).

5. VICTIMS OF DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION

5.1 Situation and legislative framework

Representatives from CONAPRED, the National Centre for the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS (Centro Nacional para la Prevencion y el Control del VIH/SIDA, CENSIDA), and the Mexico City-based homosexual rights organization Colectivo Sol all stated that there is a lack of statistical information on the level of discrimination against homosexuals in Mexico (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006; CENSIDA 8 Dec. 2006; Colectivo Sol 1 Dec. 2006). However, in a 2005 survey carried out by CONAPRED, respondents indicated that discrimination against homosexuals was common in Mexican society (2006a, 38). In an August 2005 report, CONAPRED published the results of this survey on discrimination against homosexuals, prepared jointly with SEDESOL. The study was based on 1,482 interviews with members of the general public and with 200 self-identified homosexuals (CONAPRED Aug. 2005, 1). According to the study, 94.7 percent of Mexican homosexuals face some degree of discrimination (ibid. 2006a, 38). Furthermore, 43 percent of self-identified homosexuals interviewed claimed that they had been the victim of an act of discrimination within the last year (ibid.). The study also found that, when asked whether general prospects for homosexuals had improved over the previous five years, 41.1 percent of the homosexuals interviewed believed that they had, 34.1 percent believed they had stayed the same and 24.9 percent believed they had worsened (ibid. Aug. 2005, 8). Moreover, 55.7 percent of respondents from the general public stated that the authorities should defend the rights of homosexuals wishing to live in a community where they are not welcome (ibid. Aug. 2005, 6).

A 2005 CONAPRED report analyzing the municipal legislation of 75 towns and cities across Mexico found that a number of towns and cities retain antiquated regulations governing social mores, which are sometimes still used by municipal officials and police to discourage public displays of homosexuality through the penalizing of [translation] "immoral acts" (actos inmorales ) or [translation] "displays of obscenity" (exhibiciones obscenas ) (Dec. 2005, 12). Both Arturo Diaz Betancourt, Coordinator of Programs on Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation at CONAPRED, and Enrique Esqueda Blas, who is responsible for Colectivo Sol's Centre for Information on and the Documentation of Homosexualities in Mexico (Centro de Informacion y Documentacion de las Homosexualidades en Mexico, CIDHOM) noted that negative public attitudes against homosexuals continue to persist, particularly in smaller urban centres and in rural areas (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006; Colectivo Sol 1 Dec. 2006).

Interlocutors from the CDHDF and Colectivo Sol indicated that gains have been made in improving the country's legal framework for combating discrimination based on sexual orientation, especially at the federal level and within the Federal District (DF) (CDHDF 28 Nov. 2006; Colectivo Sol 1 Dec. 2006). Alejandro Becerra Gelover, Director of Outreach and International Affairs at CONAPRED, provided some examples of gains, including legislation such as the 2003 Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination (Ley Federal para Prevenir y Eliminar la Discriminacion ), and the creation of CONAPRED in 2004 (23 Nov. 2006). Within the DF, sexual orientation was among the issues addressed in the July 2006 Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination in the Federal District (Ley para Prevenir y Erradicar la Discriminacion en el Distrito Federal ), and in October 2006 the Council for the Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination in Federal District (Consejo para Prevenir y Erradicar la Discriminacion en el Distrito Federal) was established (CDHDF 28 Nov. 2006). The Council is similar to CONAPRED in its mandate and objectives, but its jurisdiction is limited to the DF (ibid.).

In a further development in November 2006, the DF adopted the Law on Domestic Partnerships (Ley de Sociedades de Convivencia ), which, among other measures, allows for legally-recognized unions between same-sex partners (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006). Under this law, same-sex couples can register their union with the authorities and are granted inheritance and pension rights (AP 10 Nov. 2006; San Francisco Chronicle 23 Nov. 2006). However, the law applies only to the DF, and certain rights, such as the right to adopt children, are not included (ibid.).

CONAPRED's Diaz Betancourt, Colectivo Sol's Esqueda Blas and Jorge Saavedra, Director General of CENSIDA, indicated that government statistics are lacking in such areas as the number of complaints made to law enforcement agencies regarding homophobic incidents (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006; Colectivo Sol 1 Dec. 2006; CENSIDA 8 Dec. 2006). However, the NGO Citizens' Commission Against Homophobic Hate Crimes (Comision Ciudadana Contra los Crimenes de Odio por Homofobia, CCCCOH) publishes its own reports on the incidence of allegedly homophobic crimes (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006; Letraese 2004). According to the CCCCOH, there were 332 homophobic killings across Mexico between 1995 and 2004 (ibid., Sec. IV). Thirty of these killings took place in 2004, of which eleven occurred in the DF, five in the state of Mexico, four in Yucatan, three in Colima, two in Veracruz and one each in Baja California, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Michoacan and Quintana Roo (ibid.). However, Colectivo Sol's Esqueda Blas and Ricardo Hernandez Forcada, Director of the HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Program at the CNDH, suggested that the CCCCOH's statistics may not accurately represent the actual situation because they are based solely on reviews of newspaper articles; statistics from the public prosecutor's office (Ministerio Publico) are not available (Colectivo Sol 1 Dec. 2006; CNDH 31 Nov. 2006).

5.2 State protection efforts

Victims of acts of discrimination based on sexual orientation can contact CONAPRED to file a complaint, no matter where in Mexico the act of discrimination occurred (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006). CONAPRED received six such complaints in 2004 (ibid. May 2005, 13) and 15 in 2005 (ibid. 2006b, 27), the last year for which data are available.

Among the cases in which CONAPRED has been involved is the 2003 demotion and subsequent dismissal of Roberto Mendoza Ralph from his management position in Coca Cola's Mexico City offices after colleagues learned of his sexual orientation (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006; IGLHRC 16 Nov. 2005). At the request of Mendoza Ralph, CONAPRED intervened, investigated the case and put forward a recommendation, which Coca Cola did not accept (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006). Nevertheless, CONAPRED provided some legal assistance to Mendoza Ralph in a civil complaint against the company (ibid.). In February 2006, a Mexico City judge reportedly rejected Coca Cola's attempts to have the civil lawsuit dismissed, noting that it "was not about 'labor rights but moral damage the plaintiff claims to have suffered due to the defendants' discriminatory behavior'" (IGLHRC 6 Feb. 2006). According to CONAPRED's Becerra Gelover, in 2006, Mendoza was awarded 3 million Mexican pesos (MXN) [CAD 312,300 (Canada 23 Nov. 2006)] in the civil lawsuit (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006).

The CNDH is mandated to investigate complaints of human rights abuses committed by federal government employees and institutions (CNDH 30 Nov. 2006). Much of the work carried out by the CNDH in the area of sexual orientation is related to human rights violations affecting men who have sex with other men, including individuals with HIV/AIDS (ibid.). According to statistics provided to the Research Directorate by the CNDH's Hernandez Forcada, more than 570 HIV/AIDS-related complaints were lodged with the commission between 1992 and October 2006 (ibid.). These complaints centred on such issues as the alleged denial of adequate health services or medication, acts of discrimination or negligence by medical personnel, and violations of confidentiality (ibid.). Almost 44 percent of the complaints came from the DF, while the states of Jalisco, Mexico and Nuevo Leon were the next three most frequent sources (ibid.). Subsequently, the CNDH issued a number of recommendations to state and federal institutions, including hospitals, prisons and educational facilities, requesting that they improve their services for persons with HIV/AIDS (ibid.). Of the twenty federal institutions involved, thirteen complied with the recommendations, two were in the process of complying, four were deemed to have provided unsatisfactory results and one refused to accept the recommendations (ibid.).

For human rights violations committed by state-level or DF public servants, victims may file a complaint with their state human rights commission or the CDHDF, as appropriate (CDHDF 28 Nov. 2006). In the DF, the CDHDF received forty-four discrimination complaints between January 2005 and August 2006, five of which were related to the complainants' sexual orientation (ibid.). Of these, four cases involved the alleged mistreatment of homosexuals by employees of the underground railway (Metro) system (ibid.). In its 2005 report on these cases, the CDHDF recommended, among other measures, a full investigation by the Metro authority into the cases brought forward, and the implementation of a publicity campaign within the Metro to educate workers and clients about the various rights afforded to persons of a different sexual orientation (CDHDF Apr. 2006a, 211-212). However, the transit authority did not accept the recommendations (ibid., 43); instead, it reportedly claimed that some gay men were engaging in sexual acts on the Metro system, which is prohibited under the DF's Civic Culture Law (Ley de Cultura Civica ), but also suggested that its response would focus [translation] "more on education than on repression" (que apostaran a la educacion mas que a la represion ) (Notiese 5 June 2005).

Non-governmental advocacy organizations like the CDHFFV, Centro PRODH and Colectivo Sol also provide assistance to individuals who have experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation, including support in filing a complaint or seeking redress (CDHFFV 28 Nov. 2006; Centro PRODH 1 Dec. 2006; Colectivo Sol 1 Dec. 2006). The CDHFFV's Castillo Garcia stated that since 2005 his organization had provided legal assistance to victims in four criminal cases involving allegedly homophobic acts (28 Nov. 2006).

CENSIDA's Saavedra Lopez suggested that many victims of homophobic violence would be unlikely to report it (8 Dec. 2006). This view was corroborated by CONAPRED's Diaz Betancourt, who claimed that homosexuals lacked confidence in law enforcement agencies because of perceived institutionalized homophobia (23 Nov. 2006). Both Diaz Betancourt and the CNDH's Hernandez Forcada also noted that legislation to address homophobic "hate crimes" does not exist in Mexico (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006; CNDH 30 Nov. 2006). Further, Diaz Betancourt and Luis Arturo Macias Medina, Director of Centro PRODH, suggested that the public prosecutor's office sometimes characterizes allegedly homophobic killings as being motivated by other factors, such as crimes of passion, robbery or common assault (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006; Centro PRODH 1 Dec. 2006). Additionally, the CDHFFV's Castillo Garcia noted that there tends to be reduced access to justice for homosexuals in states where there is a strong conservative presence in government, such as Queretaro and Jalisco (28 Nov. 2006).

CONAPRED's Diaz Betancourt cited the allegedly homophobic killing of homosexual activist Octavio Acuna Rubio in June 2005 in Queretaro as an example of law enforcement agencies' inadequate response to homosexual crime victims (CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006). While Diaz Betancourt claimed that Acuna Rubio's killing was a reprisal for his efforts to combat homophobia within the Queretaro justice system, the Queretaro state attorney general's office concluded in 2006 that the death was the result of a common assault and not homophobia (ibid.; Notiese 20 June 2006). Local human rights groups reportedly criticized this decision, noting that the public prosecutor failed in its investigation to uncover the facts behind the case (ibid.).

5.3 Traceability of individuals fleeing violent situations

Neither government nor NGO representatives consulted were aware of any incidents in which homosexuals had been tracked down by aggressors who used government databases to locate them (Colectivo Sol 1 Dec. 2006; CONAPRED 23 Nov. 2006; CENSIDA 8 Dec. 2006). However, Saavedra Lopez claimed that publicly known homosexuals would likely face a higher risk of detection were they to relocate to another region because of their higher public profile (ibid.).

Colectivo Sol's Esqueda Blas and CENSIDA's Saavedra Lopez also provided information on the possibilities for homosexuals to relocate to avoid harassment or violence more generally (Colectivo Sol 1 Dec. 2006; CENSIDA 8 Dec. 2006). According to Esqueda Blas, university-educated homosexuals tend to have the most options available to them, including the possibility of moving to another region or city to avoid intolerance (Colectivo Sol 1 Dec. 2006). In contrast, Esqueda Blas suggested that transgendered individuals living outside the DF are the group most likely to experience threats or violence (ibid.). Saavedra Lopez claimed that individuals with HIV/AIDS living in certain small communities and towns have to relocate due to ostracization and negative public attitudes toward their disease and perceived sexual orientation (CENSIDA 8 Dec. 2006). In addition, limited access to medication in small communities is another factor inducing many HIV/AIDS sufferers to relocate to larger urban centres (Colectivo Sol 1 Dec. 2006).

NOTES ON SELECTED SOURCES

Agencia Federal de Investigacion (AFI), Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR) (Federal Investigation Agency, Office of the Attorney General of the Republic)

The AFI replaced the federal judicial police of the PGR on 1 November 2001. For better coordination between state and federal law enforcement agencies, there is at least one AFI office in each state, and officials from each state's attorney general's office are posted at AFI headquarters.

Centro de Atencion a la Violencia Intrafamiliar (CAVI), Procuraduria General de Justicia del Distrito Federal (PGJDF) (Domestic Violence Assistance Centre, Office of the Attorney General of the Federal District)

CAVI is a unit within the PGJDF that offers psychological, legal, medical and social assistance to victims of domestic violence. In particular, the CAVI assists victims in registering complaints and coordinates with the public prosecutor's office and judges on legal procedures.

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Francisco de Vitoria (CDHFFV) (Fray Francisco de Vitoria Human Rights Centre)

The CDHFFV has been active since the mid-1980s. It investigates selected legal cases of human rights violations in Mexico and provides legal advice to about 100 individuals annually. It also brings legal cases to the attention of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Funding is provided mainly by international donors such as the MacArthur Foundation.

Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez (Centro PRODH) (Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Centre)

Centro PRODH was established in 1988. It retains consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and has received accreditation from the Organization of American States (OAS). In 2006, the Centro PRODH presented reports on violence against women to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

Colectivo Sol

Colectivo Sol was formed in the early 1980s. It works to strengthen the network of non-governmental organizations that address homosexual rights and HIV/AIDS issues countrywide. The organization receives funding from international donors and some project financing from the federal and Federal District governments.

Comision de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal (CDHDF) (Federal District Human Rights Commission)

The CDHDF receives and processes complaints related to reported human rights violations committed by Federal District public servants. It also receives numerous calls regarding issues that technically fall outside its jurisdiction, such as domestic violence complaints, which are referred to other specialized organizations. In responding to complaints, the CDHDF investigates the matter and then makes recommendations to the authorities involved to help highlight and resolve the situation.

Comision Intersecretarial para la Transparencia y el Combate a la Corrupcion en la Administracion Publica Federal (CITCC), Secretaria de la Funcion Publica (SFP) (Interministerial Commission for Transparency and the Fight Against Corruption in the Federal Public Service, Ministry of the Public Service)

The commission was created in 2000 with a mandate to prevent corruption in the federal public service. It currently covers 238 federal institutions located across the country. It functions as a network that analyses the risks inherent within federal institutions and takes steps to mitigate these risks.

Comision Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH) (Mexican Commission for the Defence and Promotion of Human Rights)

The CMDPDH was founded in 1989 and is a member of the International Federation for Human Rights (Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'homme, FIDH). Its work focuses on investigating human rights issues, including civil and political rights, with an emphasis on torture and extra-judicial killings. The CMDPDH receives funding from international donors, including the MacArthur and Ford foundations, the Merck Fund, the Angelica Foundation and Development and Peace.

Comision Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH) (National Human Rights Commission)

The CNDH is an autonomous federally funded organization that receives complaints from individuals on human rights violations allegedly committed by federal public servants. It investigates complaints to determine whether a violation has occurred and makes recommendations to those involved. The CNDH is supervised by and reports to the senate.

Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminacion (CONAPRED) (National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination)

CONAPRED was created by the 2003 Federal Law for the Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination (Ley Federal para Prevenir y Eliminar la Discriminacion ). CONAPRED's mission is to address discrimination committed against vulnerable groups. It receives complaints and provides resolutions in cases involving acts of discrimination committed by private individuals and federal public servants.

Direccion Ejecutiva de Derechos Humanos, Secretaria de Seguridad Publica del Distrito Federal (SSP-DF) (Executive Directorate for Human Rights, Federal District Department of Public Security)

This directorate began its activities in 2001. Its role is to investigate human rights violations within the SSP-DF. It is also provides training for SSP-DF officers on human rights issues.

Direccion General de Atencion a Victimas de Delito, Procuraduria General de Justicia del Distrito Federal (PGJDF) (Services for Victims of Crime Branch, Office of the Attorney General of the Federal District )

Among its responsibilities, this branch of the PGJDF coordinates various assistance centres within the organization, such as CAVI, that offer specialized assistance and support, including medical, legal, social and psychological help to victims of particular crimes, such as domestic and sexual violence.

Fiscalia Especial para la Atencion de Delitos Relacionados con Actos de Violencia Contra las Mujeres en el Pais (FEVIM), Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR) (Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes of Violence Against Women, Office of the Attorney General of the Republic)

FEVIM's mandate is to address violence against women through a comprehensive investigation of problems within the country's municipal, state and federal justice systems. Moreover, the FEVIM serves as a coordinating body in relation to state-level attorney general's offices for cases of violence against women. FEVIM's 160 workers operate throughout Mexico and, among other tasks, work to raise awareness among state authorities of issues around violence against women.

Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Penales (INACIPE) (National Institute for the Study of Criminal Sciences)

INACIPE is an autonomous academic institution connected to the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (Procuraduria General de la Republica, PGR). It provides training to PGR officials and other experts on the penal system, and offers graduate studies in the field of criminal sciences. INACIPE also makes proposals for public policy development and publishes specialized studies in criminology.

Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres (INMUJERES) (National Institute for Women)

INMUJERES began operations in March 2001. It is a federal government institution mandated to foster, protect and acknowledge the human rights and fundamental liberties of women. Among its various responsibilities, it coordinates with other public institutions on the implementation, follow-up and evaluation of national policies and laws that promote gender equity.

Unidad para la Promocion y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, Secretaria de Gobernacion (SEGOB) (Unit for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights, Ministry of the Interior)

The Unit is responsible for the implementation of the National Program for Human Rights (Programa Nacional de Derechos Humanos, PNDH), which was born out of a technical agreement with the Mexican bureau of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The Unit serves as a coordinating/interministerial bureau on human rights issues. In particular, it leads the coordinating committee for the evaluation of and follow-up to the PNDH, which includes civil society organizations

Red Nacional de Refugios (RENARAC) (National Network of Shelters)

The RENARAC is a civil society organization that supervises a network of private and public shelters that assist victims of domestic and sexual violence. Its financing comes from various sources, including civil society, international donors and federal, state and local governments.

Sistema de Informacion y Atencion a la Ciudadania (SIAC), Secretaria de Seguridad Publica (SSP) (Citizens' Information and Services Network, Ministry of Public Security)

SIAC was established in 2005 with a mandate to foster a culture of reporting of crime and increase citizens' confidence in public security agencies. To this end, SIAC established Citizens' Information and Services Centres (Centros de Informacion y Atencion a la Ciudadania, CIAC). Each CIAC is a multi-use facility offering psychological, legal, medical and social assistance to victims of crime. It also provides information, consultation services and other assistance to members of the general public.

Subprocuraduria de Derechos Humanos, Atencion a Victimas y Servicios a la Comunidad (SDHAVSC), Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR) (Office of the Deputy Attorney General for Human Rights, Victim Assistance and Community Services; Office of the Attorney General of the Republic)

This Office within the PGR began its operations in 2004. It provides, among other services, legal, medical, and psychological assistance to victims of crime.

Subprocuraduria de Investigacion Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada (SIEDO), Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR) (Office of the Deputy Attorney General for Special Investigations into Organized Crime, Office of the Attorney General of the Republic)

SIEDO investigates and prosecutes cases involving organized crime and provides protection to witnesses of organized crime. There are six specialized units operating within SIEDO, including a Kidnapping Unit (Unidad de Secuestros).

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Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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