22 | MAY | 2019
Blood splattered on a wall of the warehouse where the victims of Tlatlaya were killed. (Photo: AP)

Mexican human rights agency asks Army to clarify the term "abatir"

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The Defense Department has said the killings in the municipality of Tlatlaya in June 2014 were the work of seven soldiers charged in the case and it has not implicated any ranking officers.

The Mexican government's human rights agency is urging the army not to use ambiguous terms in orders such as "abatir" criminals, a word almost universally understood in Mexico as meaning "kill."

The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) said it made a formal request to the Defense Department asking that it review and correct the orders it issues to avoid "imprecise or ambiguous" language.

Federal officials claim that "abatir" can mean other things, such as knock down or humiliate.

The Defense Department has said the killings on June 30, 2014 in the municipality of Tlatlaya west of Mexico City were the work of seven soldiers charged in the case and it has not implicated any ranking officers. In November, three of the soldiers on the patrol were charged with aggravated homicide and four others, including a lieutenant, were charged with "actions improper to the public service" for failing to report the killings. There have been no trials or verdicts in the case.

The Armed Forces Manual on the Use of Force states that soldiers "can only use their firearms in legitimate defense of themselves or of other people, in cases of danger of imminent death or serious injury, or to prevent the commission of a crime that involves a threat to life, and only in the case where other less extreme measures are insufficient to achieve those objectives."

However, a National Human Rights Commission investigation found that between 12 and 15 of the Tlatlaya victims were killed unarmed or after surrendering.

The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), based in Costa Rica, asked the government of Mexico to investigate the military chain of command in the Tlatlaya case.

In a statement delivered to EL UNIVERSAL Costa Rican lawyer Marcia Aguiluz, CEJIL's Director for Central America and Mexico, considered "urgent" that the government of Mexico investigates "the possible involvement of senior military commanders who issued an order to "abatir" criminals in their operations.

(With information from José Melendez).



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