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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007, 02:03 GMT
Mexico's human rights under fire
By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Mexico City

Mexican police - file photo
Law and order is President Calderon's top priority
Mexico's human rights record has been severely criticised in a new report by the rights group Amnesty International.

The group says that arbitrary detention and torture are systematic and that it is Mexico's poor who suffer most.

It also highlights the problem suffered by millions of indigenous peoples at the hands of the authorities.

The government's use of soldiers to tackle drugs gangs is criticised but the Mexican government has said that it is working to clean up the abuses.

'Systematic abuses'

Amnesty International cites case after case of people who it says have had their legal rights abused.

In one example, it says police arrested a political activist and bundled him into a vehicle, even though he was paraplegic.

His wheelchair and medicine were discarded and he spent two months in jail before being released without charge.

Amnesty says unfair trials, torture and other abuses are systematic across the country.

It says even the presumption of innocence is not yet enshrined in the country's constitution.

There are just 82 lawyers to represent 13 million indigenous people.

Amnesty says that the Mexican government is signing up to regional and global human rights conventions and that President Felipe Calderon has made law and order his first priority.

But, Amnesty says, a strong criminal justice system is the cornerstone of a just society and major improvements are needed in Mexico.

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