Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court receives complaint of crimes against humanity by the Mexican Army

Earlier today the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and other partners submitted a complaint to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In their report they allege that between 27 March 2008 and 16 January 2010 in the Mexican State of Chihuahua the Mexican Army committed crimes against humanity that fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

The complaints allege that military units operating as part of “Operation Conjunta Chihuahua” – a large and complex operation established to combat organized crime as part of the so-called “war on drugs” – committed the crimes of murder, torture, rape and sexual violence of comparable gravity, and enforced disappearances. Further, they allege that far from being isolated incidents these crimes were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population, pursuant to a known and tolerated state policy, and hence should be considered crimes against humanity within the definitions of the Statute of the ICC.

Security Force Monitor is not a signatory of this complaint, but is honoured to have provided research support to CMDPDH during the course of their investigation into these events. Through a close read of existing public records we were able to provide a detailed look at the composition, chain of command and areas of operation of Operation Conjunta Chihuahua, in particular its relationship to Region Militar XI. Our full contribution to CMDPDH’s investigation is not publicly available and has been included as a confidential annex to the ICC complaint. However, on WhoWasInCommand.com we have already published on much of the data produced about Operation Conjunta Chihuahua along with data on over 1000 units and 300 commanding officers of the security forces of Mexico going back a decade.

Now the complaint has been submitted the Office of the Prosecutor is obliged to assess it and move to start an investigation if it finds there is a reasonable basis to do so. We hope that the Prosecutor is persuaded by the complaint and we will track developments here on the blog. The full communication is available in Spanish from CMDPDH and English from FIDH.

En español:

Fiscal de la Corte Penal Internacional recibe denuncia de crímenes de lesa humanidad cometidos por el Ejército Mexicano

El día de hoy la Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH), la Federación Internacional de los Derechos Humanos (FIDH) junto con otras organizaciones colaboradoras, presentaron una denuncia ante la Oficina del Fiscal (OTP) de la Corte Penal Internacional (CPI).  Dentro de su informe, se denuncia que entre el 27 de marzo de 2008 y el 16 de enero de 2010 en el estado mexicano de Chihuahua, el Ejército Mexicano cometió crímenes de lesa humanidad que caen bajo la jurisdicción de la CPI.

Las denuncias alegan que las unidades militares que operaban dentro de la denominada “Operación Conjunta Chihuahua” (una compleja operación militar establecida para combatir el crimen organizado como parte de la llamada “guerra contra el narcotráfico) cometieron los crímenes de asesinato, tortura, violación y abuso sexual y desapariciones forzadas. Además, alegan que, lejos de ser incidentes aislados, estos crímenes fueron cometidos como parte de un ataque generalizado y sistemático contra la población civil, de conformidad con una política estatal conocida y tolerada por el Estado, y por lo tanto deben considerarse como crímenes de lesa humanidad dentro de las definiciones del Estatuto de la CPI.

A pesar de no ser un signatario de dicha denuncia, el Security Force Monitor tiene el honor de haberle brindado análisis de apoyo a la CMDPDH durante el transcurso de su investigación. A través de un análisis minucioso de los registros públicos existentes, pudimos proporcionar una visión detallada de la composición, cadena de mando y áreas de operación de la Operación Conjunta Chihuahua y en particular su relación con la Región Militar XI. Nuestra contribución total a la investigación de CMDPDH no se encuentra disponible públicamente y se ha incluido como un anexo confidencial a la queja presentada ante la CPI. Sin embargo, en WhoWasInCommand.com ya hemos publicado muchos de los datos producidos sobre la Operación Conjunta Chihuahua junto con datos de más de 1000 unidades y 300 comandantes de las fuerzas de seguridad de México que datan de hace una década.

Ahora que la denuncia ha sido entregada, la Oficina del Fiscal se encuentra obligada a evaluarla y proceder a iniciar una investigación si considera bases razonables para hacerlo. Esperamos que el Fiscal sea persuadido por la queja y tome las medidas adecuadas, a las cuales daremos seguimiento en el presente blog. La comunicación completa se encuentra disponible en Español en el portal de la CMDPDH y en Inglés en la página de la FIDH.

February data update on WhoWasInCommand.com – SARS Nigeria, Mexico military garrisons, new Egypt units

Since December 2017 we have made published two updates to WhoWasInCommand.com, adding a large number of new records, expanding others and making some corrections. Cumulatively, these updates increase the data available on WhoWasInCommand.com by 25%. In this blog post we’ll look in depth a recent restructure of the Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force and give a brief overview of other updates.

Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) – Nigeria Police Force

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Changes in the chain of command of Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force

SARS are a specialised type of unit of the Nigeria Police Force. They were established in each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to combat violent crime. Civil society groups have reported on allegations of human rights abuses by SARS for at least 15 years. In its September 2016 report “You Have Signed Your Death Warrant” Amnesty International documented numerous allegations against SARS across Nigeria, including acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. We have carefully extracted these incidents from Amnesty’s report and made them searchable on WhoWasInCommand.com.

In December 2017 Nigerian citizens rallied around the #EndSARS hashtag on social media, using it to make allegations and share experiences of violence and corruption by SARS personnel. #EndSARS culminated in a number of protests during which the movement’s leadership demanded the squads be disbanded. In response, the Inspector-General of Police did not disband SARS but restructured the units… twice. What, if anything, changed?

For a long stretch between 2010 and 3 December 2017 the SARS in each state and the FCT of Nigeria had two different and simultaneous chains of command. Each state/FCT SARS was under the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) for their state/FCT while also being “coordinated” by a Commissioner of Police for SARS who was under the Federal Criminal Investigation Department/”D” Department of the Nigeria Police Force. Ultimately both chains of command end at the Inspector General of Police (IGP) at Force Headquarters.

On 4 December 2017 the IGP announced a dramatic reshuffle: SARS in each state/FCT would report to the Federal SARS, which itself would be moved under the “B” Department/Operations Department at Force Headquarters in Abuja. Thus for a brief moment all of the SARS units in each state had a single chain of command.

It may be that this was a mistake because just over a fortnight later on 22 December 2017 the IGP made another announcement: SARS would return to having two simultaneous chains of command. SARS in each state/FCT would be under the command of the state/FCT Commissioner of Police (through the CP’s deputies in charge of operations) as well as continuing to report to the CP in charge of Federal SARS who was still under the “B” Department/Operations.

So, the overall effect on the SARS chain of command is the removal of State CID, along with a shift in reporting from “D” Department (Investigations) to the “B” Department (Operations) at Force Headquarters. The impact of these restructurings on SARS themselves are difficult to assess. A past reorganization announced by the IGP in November 2015 – which split SARS in each state into “operations” and “investigations” branches – apparently was never actually implemented on the ground. Amnesty International reported SARS officers they interviewed in June 2016 were “unaware of the IGP’s announcement [in November 2015] that SARS ha[d] been split into two units for operations purposes.” For now, SARS is also still listed as under the “D” Department on the Nigeria Police Force’s website. We will continue to watch developments closely, update and extend our data on SARS as more information becomes available.

You can view the updated data on the Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) of the Nigerian Police on WhoWasInCommand.com.

Other updates to data on security forces in Nigeria, Mexico and Egypt

Nigeria

As well as our close look at SARS above we have updated WhoWasInCommand.com with data on police units in Delta and Bauchi States in Nigeria. Further, we have now added allegations of human rights abuses by security forces against pro-Biafra protesters in the south-eastern states of Nigeria. In its November 2016 report “Bullets Were Raining Everywhere” Amnesty International reports numerous allegations of extrajudicial killing, torture and arbitrary arrest and detention committed by security forces against pro-Biafran protesters between August 2015 and August 2016 in Nigeria’s Anambra, Abia and Rivers States.

View the updated Nigeria data on WhoWasInCommand.com:

Mexico

We have extended the Mexico dataset on WhoWasInCommand.com to cover Military Garrisons (“guarniciones militares”) and their commanders. Garrisons can play an active role in military operations and often command smaller units as well. One example of this is Guarnición Militar de Ciudad Juárez which participated in a major military joint operation Operación Conjunta Chihuahua and commanded both the 9 and 20 Regimientos de Caballería Motorizado (motorized cavalry regiments).

In an earlier upload of data we had omitted full descriptions of a number alleged human rights abuses in Mexico. We have now corrected this.

View the updated Mexico data on WhoWasInCommand.com:

Egypt

For our data on Egypt, we have added initial data on top level military structures and entries for police units in Aswan and Al Sharqia governorates in Egypt. We’ve also included a small number of allegations of human rights abuses by police in Egypt as reported by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in September 2017.

View the updated Egypt data on WhoWasInCommand.com:

 

Launching WhoWasInCommand.com – a power tool for investigating security forces

It’s a big day here at  Security Force Monitor. We’re excited to reveal our first official product: WhoWasInCommand.com.

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WhoWasInCommand.com shows the composition of security forces, their commanders, and the locations of operations and bases

WhoWasInCommand.com makes it fast and easy to find detailed information about the chain of command, areas of operation, commanders and bases of the police, military and other security forces of a country and discover links to alleged human rights violations.

This platform is a unique resource containing a level of detailed data about security forces that has never existed before. It’s the result of an enormous amount of work – and would not have been possible without extensive advice and help from civil society partners. We hope that you find this new tool useful.

10 reasons to use WhoWasInCommand.com

We’d like to point out some of the things that we think make WhoWasInCommand.com a powerful and effective research tool:

  1. Unique, high grade research: WhoWasInCommand.com contains thousands of units and commanders from the security forces of Egypt, Mexico and Nigeria going back over 10 years. We are committed to expanding our coverage for those and other countries. Expect more data soon!
  2. Start with search; find things fast: It’s easy to find what you want, no need to navigate unnecessarily.
  3. Refine your search with powerful filters: Your search results can be refined using nearly 30 different dimensions about location, time, organizational attributes and relationships, and biographical details of personnel.
  4. Crystal clear views of the data: We’ve designed simple maps, tables and tree charts to present the data we have in the clearest ways possible.
  5. Check out where every bit of data comes from: You can take a look and get at the sources used to evidence every single datapoint on WhoWasInCommand.com. Also the methods we have used to create the data are fully documented in our Research Handbook.
  6. Take your findings home with you: Search results, along with any dossier on WhoWasInCommand.com can be downloaded into a spreadsheet along with all their sources.
  7. Get help when you need it: WhoWasInCommand.com contains help and tips throughout, explaining how different bits of the site work, and what the data presented means.
  8. Use it in your language: WhoWasInCommand.com is currently translated into English and Spanish, with several more languages to come.
  9. Use it on mobiles and tablets! WhoWasInCommand.com is mobile friendly.
  10. Get your own WhoWasInCommand: The software powering WhoWasInCommand.com is open source, which means you can set up and run your own copy of the platform.

Security Force Monitor has partnered with DataMade to create WhoWasInCommand.com. DataMade has operationalized and refined Security Force Monitor’s data structure, created a powerful open source platform to put the data online, and made a significant contribution to the concept and design of WhoWasInCommand.com.

We hope that WhoWasInCommand.com aids the work of journalists, human rights researchers, advocates, litigators and others working to make security forces accountable to the public they serve.

We’re keen to hear what you think about WhoWasInCommand.com. Email us at technical@securityforcemonitor.org.