In the 1990's, Rodolfo Montiel worked to prevent logging companies and land barons from destroying the ecology of his home state of Guerrero, Mexico. For his trouble, he was arrested and tortured by the Mexican military. Eventually, he made his way to the United States, where he received political asylum in 2005.
Now, Mr. Montiel has a lawsuit that is currently before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He is seeking reparations from the Mexican government and punishment of those responsible for torturing him. He also hopes to clear his name. In a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Montiel said he was optimistic that the court would find in his favor, though not so sure the Mexican government would heed the judgment, even though Mexico recognizes the authority of the court and its rulings are binding.
Mr. Montiel's case is the fifth case brought against Mexico in the past 18 months. Four of those cases claimed that the Mexican army was responsible for human rights abuses. In the two cases decided so far, Mexico lost.
According to the LA Times, these cases demonstrate a "pattern of abuse by the military that far predates Mexican President Felipe Calderon's drug war, in which the number of allegations of human rights violations has soared." "And the case highlights flaws in the judicial system that persist today... including the use of confessions obtained under torture, the denial of basic rights to detainees and the refusal of authorities to seriously investigate allegations of mistreatment by the army."
It's rare that an asylee sues the government that abused him. Soon we will see whether the Human Rights Court grants him the vindication that he seeks.