Mexican actor Garcia Bernal brings call for end to impunity to UN

by Reuters
Tuesday, 13 March 2018 22:53 GMT

(Corrects name of film in 7th paragraph to "Devil's Freedom")

* Gael Garcia Bernal calls for pressure on Mexico to end abuses

* Actor to address U.N. Human Rights Council on Wednesday

* 25,000 killed in Mexico's drug-related violence in 2017 alone

* "Elections are coming, stakes are pretty high" - Garcia Bernal

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, March 13 (Reuters) - Actor and filmmaker Gael Garcia Bernal called on Tuesday for the United Nations and governments around the world to put pressure on his native Mexico to end impunity for corruption and large-scale killings.

Activists and U.N. investigators have accused Mexican security forces of crimes including murder, torture and disappearances since the military was sent to tackle the country's powerful drug cartels in 2007. More than 100,000 have died in drug violence in the decade since.

The country is also experiencing its worst-ever surge in violent crime, with more than 25,000 killings in 2017, a rate of nearly 21 per 100,000 people. The run-up to a presidential election in July has also been marred by violence.

"Elections are coming, stakes are pretty high. This is the moment, this is the moment to overturn things," Garcia Bernal, 39, told a news conference in Geneva, where he is to address the U.N. Human Rights Council on Wednesday.

"I don't want to go into my 40s thinking that I am going to have systematic violence, systematic impunity in my country."

Crime not being prosecuted is linked to "corruption on a broad scale, on a wide scale," he told a panel on Mexico held at the U.N. earlier. "It is a system that sustains how everything has been."

Garcia Bernal is attending a documentary film "Devil's Freedom" and taking part in a debate afterwards entitled: "Mexico: Towards the End of Impunity?" at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva in the evening.

Asked what he would tell the U.N rights forum, where Mexico is among the 47 member states, Garcia Bernal told reporters:

"To interact with Mexican society, with the victims, with the Mexico institutions, with the governmental institutions and to put pressure definitely on Mexico.

"When the eyes of the world say and portray or signal something that's wrong in Mexico, that is the only moment that politicians do something in Mexico," he said.

There was a "debt to all the victims", Garcia Bernal said.

"We have a lost generation in that sense. I mean just talking about disappeared people from 2006 until now there are more disappeared people from Mexico ... close or more than the people that were disappeared in the 'Dirty War' in Argentina.

"It is an emblematic, systematic violence that went on there. And we're close to that number," he said.

The actor, who flew in from Buenos Aires, was referring to Argentina's 1973-83 "dirty war" military dictatorship which rights groups say was responsible for "disappearing" - a euphemism for kidnapping and murdering - some 30,000 people it saw as opponents. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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