Mexican Authorities Urged to End Torture Epidemic and Hold Security Forces Accountable

Press Release
October 10, 2012

Mexican Authorities Urged to End Torture Epidemic and Hold Security Forces Accountable

Human Rights Organization Calls on New President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto to Ensure that Security Forces are Fully Held Accountable for Human Rights Violations

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @spksingh

(Washington, DC) The Mexican government must take decisive action to prevent police and security forces from torturing and abusing those in their custody, Amnesty International said in a new report today. Amnesty International has documented systemic and widespread use of torture under the current government led by President Felipe Calderón. As reports of torture and ill-treatment have increased, the Calderón administration has failed to mount effective investigations, denying justice for the victims.

“The Calderón administration has effectively turned a blind eye to the ‘torture epidemic’ we’ve been witnessing in Mexico,” said Rupert Knox, Mexico researcher at Amnesty International. Across Mexico criminal suspects often face detention and trial on the basis of evidence obtained under torture and ill-treatment while prosecutors and courts fail to question seriously information or evidence obtained in this manner.”

In 2011, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) received 1,669 reports of torture and ill treatment by police and security forces; up from 1,161 in 2010; 1,055 in 2009 and 564 in 2008. These figures cover reports of abuse by federal officials. In the last three years, Amnesty International has recorded reports of torture in all 31 states and the Federal District. Torture and ill-treatment takes place during detention. Suspects can be held by prosecutors for up to 80 days before being charged or released.

Across Mexico military personnel performing policing functions have held thousands of suspects in military barracks before presenting them to prosecutors. There have been numerous reports of torture and ill-treatment of people in military custody.

Many Central American migrants crossing Mexico are also targets of torture and ill-treatment by criminal gangs operating in collusion with public officials. According to the CNDH, 11,000 migrants were kidnapped in a six-month period in 2010 alone, many suffering grave ill-treatment in which public officials may have been involved. Amnesty International is not aware of a single case where police or other security agents have been prosecuted for the torture or ill-treatment of migrants.

In a letter sent to Amnesty International, Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto committed to implement policies and take action to end torture.

“Mr. Peña Nieto’s words are promising, but words alone will mean little to the victims and their families who have endured years of torture and ill-treatment, enforced ‘disappearances,’ false criminal charges, and extrajudicial killings at the hands of Mexican security forces,” said Frank Jannuzi, head of Amnesty International’s Washington, DC office. “The people of Mexico will have greater confidence in the state’s ability to improve public security if the government eliminates the culture of impunity which has prevailed under the Calderon administration.”

For a copy of the new report, please contact the AIUSA media office at 202.509.8194 or ssingh@aiusa.org.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Read the Report