Mexico’s Human Rights Commission said Friday that it has documented eight new cases of military abuse and torture.
The cases include allegations that soldiers tortured a migrant after mistakenly identifying him as a drug runner at the border by shoving splinters of wood under his finger- and toenails.
Soldiers also are accused of putting a tube down the man’s throat to force him to drink alcoholic beverages and then leaving him passed out in the desert in Sonora state, bordering Arizona.
He survived the June 7, 2007 ordeal and told investigators about it, the commission said.
Soldiers also are accused of using electric shocks on the testicles of two men and on the stomach of a third man while troops searched homes in the Pacific coast state of Michoacan between June and October 2007.
Military says it will investigate
The commission said the abuses were committed not only by low-ranking soldiers but also lieutenants, captains and one major.
Mexico’s Defense Department released a statement Friday saying that it has opened investigations into the eight new cases reported by the commission. It said two army officials and 10 soldiers are already on trial in connection with three of those cases.
It added that it has put in place a program to educate soldiers about human rights.
Since taking office in 2006, President Felipe Calderon has sent more than 20,000 soldiers across Mexico to fight drug cartels amid the country’s spiraling violence.
The commission said the military should not be performing police work and urged Calderon to set a date for the withdrawal of soldiers from drug spots.
The commission’s president, Jose Luis Soberanes, also recommended “intense education and training” to ensure soldiers follow the letter of the law, saying troops “cannot act like criminals.”
The commission said it has documented a total of 983 complaints against the army since Calderon took office Dec. 1, 2006, and 75 percent of those complaints are tied to the military’s fight against organized crime.