Mexico, which has 32 states, is a multiparty federal republic with an elected president and bicameral legislature. In 2012 President Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party won election to a single six-year term in elections observers considered free and fair. Citizens elected members of the Senate in 2012 and members of the Chamber of Deputies in 2015. Observers considered the June 2016 gubernatorial elections free and fair.
Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over the security forces.
The most significant human rights issues included involvement by police, military, and other state officials, sometimes in coordination with criminal organizations, in unlawful killings, disappearances, and torture; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions in some prisons; arbitrary arrests and detentions; intimidation and corruption of judges; violence against journalists by government and organized criminal groups; violence against migrants by government officers and organized criminal groups; corruption; lethal violence and sexual assault against institutionalized persons with disabilities; lethal violence against members of the indigenous population and against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons; and lethal violence against priests by criminal organizations.
Impunity for human rights abuses remained a problem, with extremely low rates of prosecution for all forms of crimes.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: Federal law criminalizes rape of men or women, including spousal rape, and conviction carries penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Twenty-four states have laws criminalizing spousal rape.
The federal penal code prohibits domestic violence and stipulates penalties for conviction of between six months’ and four years’ imprisonment. Twenty-nine states stipulate similar penalties, although in practice sentences were often more lenient. Federal law does not criminalize spousal abuse. State and municipal laws addressing domestic violence largely failed to meet the required federal standards and often were unenforced.
According to the law, the crime of femicide is the murder of a woman committed because of the victim’s gender and is a federal offense punishable if convicted by 40 to 60 years in prison. It is also a criminal offense in all states. The Special Prosecutor’s Office for Violence against Women and Trafficking in Persons of the Attorney General’s Office is responsible for leading government programs to combat domestic violence and prosecuting federal human trafficking cases involving three or fewer suspects. The office had 12 federal prosecutors dedicated to federal cases of violence against women.
In addition to shelters, there were women’s justice centers that provided more services than traditional shelters, including legal services and protection; however, the number of cases far surpassed institutional capacity.
Sexual Harassment: Federal labor law prohibits sexual harassment and provides for fines from 250 to 5,000 times the minimum daily wage. Sixteen states criminalize sexual harassment, and all states have provisions for punishment when the perpetrator is in a position of power. According to the National Women’s Institute (INMUJERES), the federal institution charged with directing national policy on equal opportunity for men and women, sexual harassment in the workplace was a significant problem.
Coercion in Population Control: There were few reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods; however, forced, coerced, and involuntary sterilizations were reported, targeting mothers with HIV. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .
Discrimination: The law provides women the same legal status and rights as men and “equal pay for equal work performed in equal jobs, hours of work, and conditions of efficiency.” Women tended to earn substantially less than men did. Women were more likely to experience discrimination in wages, working hours, and benefits.
Birth Registration: Children derived citizenship both by birth within the country’s territory and from one’s parents. Citizens generally registered the births of newborns with local authorities. Failure to register births could result in the denial of public services such as education or health care.
Child Abuse: There were numerous reports of child abuse. The National Program for the Integral Protection of Children and Adolescents, mandated by law, is responsible for coordinating the protection of children’s rights at all levels of government.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum marriage age is 18. Enforcement, however, was inconsistent across the states, where some civil codes permit girls to marry at 14 and boys at 16 with parental consent. With a judge’s consent, children may marry at younger ages.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and authorities generally enforced the law. Nonetheless, NGOs reported sexual exploitation of minors, as well as child sex tourism in resort towns and northern border areas.
Statutory rape constitutes a crime in the federal criminal code. If an adult is convicted of having sexual relations with a minor ages 15 to 18, the penalty is between three months and four years in prison. Conviction of the crime of sexual relations with a minor under age 15 carries a sentence of eight to 30 years’ imprisonment. Laws against corruption of a minor and child pornography apply to victims under age 18. For conviction of the crimes of selling, distributing, or promoting pornography to a minor, the law stipulates a prison term of six months to five years and a fine of 300 to 500 times the daily minimum wage. For conviction of crimes involving minors in acts of sexual exhibitionism or the production, facilitation, reproduction, distribution, sale, and purchase of child pornography, the law mandates seven to 12 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 800 to 2,500 times the daily minimum wage.
Perpetrators convicted of promoting, publicizing, or facilitating sexual tourism involving minors face seven to 12 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 800 to 2,000 times the daily minimum wage. For those convicted of involvement in sexual tourism who commit sexual acts with minors, the law requires a 12- to 16-year prison sentence and a fine of 2,000 to 3,000 times the daily minimum wage. Conviction of sexual exploitation of a minor carries an eight- to 15-year prison sentence and a fine of 1,000 to 2,500 times the daily minimum wage.
Institutionalized Children: Civil society groups expressed concerns regarding abuses of children with mental and physical disabilities in orphanages, migrant centers, and care facilities.
International Child Abductions: The country is party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
The 67,000-person Jewish community experienced low levels of anti-Semitism. While an Anti-Defamation League report described an increase in anti-Semitic attitudes in the country from 24 percent of the population in 2014 to 35 percent of the population in 2017, Jewish community representatives reported low levels of anti-Semitic acts and good interreligious cooperation both from the government and civil society organizations in addressing rare instances of anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government did not effectively enforce the law. The law requires the Ministry of Health to promote the creation of long-term institutions for persons with disabilities in distress, and the Ministry of Social Development must establish specialized institutions to care for, protect, and house persons with disabilities in poverty, neglect, or marginalization. NGOs reported authorities had not implemented programs for community integration. NGOs reported no changes in the mental health system to create community services nor any efforts by authorities to have independent experts monitor human rights violations in psychiatric institutions.
Public buildings and facilities did not comply with the law requiring access for persons with disabilities. The education system provided special education for students with disabilities nationwide. Children with disabilities attended school at a lower rate than those without disabilities. NGOs reported employment discrimination.
Abuses in mental health institutions and care facilities, including those for children, were a problem. Abuses of persons with disabilities included lack of access to justice, the use of physical and chemical restraints, physical and sexual abuse, trafficking, forced labor, disappearances, and illegal adoption of institutionalized children. Institutionalized persons with disabilities often lacked adequate medical care and rehabilitation, privacy, and clothing and often ate, slept, and bathed in unhygienic conditions. They were vulnerable to abuse from staff members, other patients, or guests at facilities where there was inadequate supervision. Documentation supporting the person’s identity and origin was lacking, and there were instances of disappearances.
As of August 25, the NGO Disability Rights International (DRI) reported that most residents had been moved to other institutions from the privately run institution Casa Esperanza, where they were allegedly victims of pervasive sexual abuse by staff and, in some cases, human trafficking. Two of the victims died within the first six months after transfer to other facilities, and the third was sexually abused. DRI stated the victim was raped repeatedly during a period of seven months at the Fundacion PARLAS I.A.P. and that another woman was physically abused at an institution in another state to which she was transferred.
Voting centers for federal elections were generally accessible for persons with disabilities, and ballots were available with a braille overlay for federal elections. In Mexico City, voting centers for local elections were also reportedly accessible, including braille overlays, but these services were inconsistently available for local elections elsewhere in the country.
The constitution provides all indigenous peoples the right to self-determination, autonomy, and education. Conflicts arose from interpretation of the self-governing “uses and customs” laws used by indigenous communities. Uses and customs laws apply traditional practices to resolve disputes, choose local officials, and collect taxes, with limited federal or state government involvement. Communities and NGOs representing indigenous groups reported the government often failed to consult indigenous communities adequately when making decisions regarding the development of projects intended to exploit the energy, minerals, timber, and other natural resources on indigenous lands. The CNDH maintained a formal human rights program to inform and assist members of indigenous communities.
The CNDH reported indigenous women were among the most vulnerable groups in society. They often experienced racism and discrimination and were often victims of violence. Indigenous persons generally had limited access to health-care and education services.
Thousands of persons from the four indigenous groups in the Sierra Tarahumara (the Raramuri, Pima, Guarojio, and Tepehuan) were displaced, and several indigenous leaders were killed or threatened, according to local journalists, NGOs, and state officials.
For example, on January 15, Isidro Baldenegro Lopez was killed in Chihuahua. Lopez was a community leader of the Raramuri indigenous people and an environmental activist who had won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2005.
On June 26, Mario Luna, an indigenous leader of the Yaqui tribe in the state of Sonora, was attacked with his family by unknown assailants in an incident believed to be harassment in retaliation for his activism in opposition to an aqueduct threatening the tribe’s access to water. Luna began receiving formal protection from federal and state authorities after he was attacked.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and against LGBTI individuals.
In Mexico City the law criminalizes hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Civil society groups claimed police routinely subjected LGBTI persons to mistreatment while in custody.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was prevalent, despite a gradual increase in public tolerance of LGBTI individuals, according to public opinion surveys. There were reports that the government did not always investigate and punish those complicit in abuses, especially outside Mexico City.
On April 18, media reported LGBTI activist Juan Jose Roldan Avila was beaten to death on April 16 in Calpulalpan, Tlaxcala. His body showed signs of torture.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
The Catholic Multimedia Center reported criminal groups targeted priests and other religious leaders in some parts of the country and subjected them to extortion, death threats, and intimidation. As of August the center reported four priests killed, two foiled kidnappings, and two attacks against the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Mexican Bishops Office in Mexico City.