Monday, September 6, 2010

Mexican Soldiers Open Fire On Family Car At Checkpoint, Killing 2

MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — Soldiers opened fire on a family’s car at a checkpoint in northern Mexico, killing a 15-year-old boy and another person, authorities said Monday.
It was at least the second time this year that a family has been caught up in a shooting involving Mexico’s military, which has come under intense criticism for human rights abuses as soldiers fight brutal drug cartels.
Soldiers apparently shot at the car when the driver failed to stop at the checkpoint Sunday on the highway from the northeastern city of Monterrey to Laredo, Texas, said Javier Trevina, Nuevo Leon state government secretary.
A 15-year-old boy and a man were killed, he said. Three other adults and two children were wounded.
The Defense Department promised an investigation, expressing its “deep condolences to the family” in a statement Monday.
The military is mired in a controversy involving the April death of two brothers, ages 5 and 9, on a highway in Tamaulipas, a state bordering Nuevo Leon.
The National Human Rights Commission accused soldiers of shooting the children and altering the crime scene to try to blame the deaths on drug cartel gunmen.
The army denies the allegations and says the boys were killed in the crossfire of a shootout between soldiers and gunmen.
The scandal has renewed demands from activists that civilian authorities, not the army, investigate human rights cases involving the military.
More recently, soldiers killed a U.S. citizen Aug. 22 outside the Pacific coast resort city of Acapulco.
In a statement to police, an army lieutenant claimed that Joseph Proctor, who had lived Mexico for several years, shot first at the military convoy on a highway between Acapulco and Zihuatanejo.
The Defense Department said it was investigating the officer’s claim, which Proctor’s father, William Proctor, said he found hard to believe.
The administration of President Barack Obama is withholding $26 million in aid to Mexico, recommending that the government give more power to its human rights commission and crack down on abusive soldiers.
In a report released last week, the State Department said the Mexican government has met human rights requirements to receive $36 million in previously withheld funds that are part of a $1.4 billion Merida Initiative.
But the U.S. said it would withhold 15 percent of newly authorized funds until Mexico meets several requirements: enhancing the authority of the National Human Rights Commission, limiting authority of military courts in cases involving abuse of civilians, and improving communication with human rights organizations.
The Mexican government said it is working to improve human rights but noted in a statement that cooperation between the two countries “is based on shared responsibility, mutual trust and respect for the jurisdiction of each country, not on unilateral plans for evaluating and conditions unacceptable to the government of Mexico.”

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