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Amnesty Chides Mexico's 'Schizophrenic' Law Enforcement

The head of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, who ended a week-long visit here, told Mexican officials fighting organized crime must be tempered with strict observance of human rights. James Blears has more from Mexico City.

Irene Khan came to Mexico on a fact-finding mission. While here, she met with President Felipe Calderon, the foreign minister, minister of the interior, among others.

She described Mexico's approach to human rights as "schizophrenic" -- advocating an ambitious plan on a global scale, all the while carrying out a haphazard program at home.

"Other governments will turn around and tell them to put their own house in order," said Khan. "So there's a risk in carrying forward this dual approach, and we hope very much that the Calderon administration will recognize that risk and manage it by seeking to improve the domestic situation."

Khan singled out the use of the Mexican Army in combatting organized crime -- which Mr. Calderon said he will continue doing in the coming years -- saying military operations must be carried out under strict rules of engagement.

"The Minister for public security on Friday admitted that Mexico does not have clear rules on the use for force even by the police," said Khan. "And he called for clarification from Congress on that issue. This is absolutely critical if the government is going to bring in the military into policing operations."

Khan said President Calderon must consider human rights in planning law enforcement operations.

"My concise message for President Calderon is that he cannot develop a sustainable security strategy without incorporating within it human rights principles," she said.

She said respecting human rights is not only a question of principle, but also an important part of good governance.