Annual Report: Mexico 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Mexico 2013

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The National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH) received 1,921 complaints against the armed forces and 802 against the Federal Police. Twenty-one recommendations were issued against the army and navy and nine against the Federal Police during the year. There was no publicly available information on police prosecuted and convicted for human rights violations. Only eight military personnel were convicted in the military justice system during the year.

Arbitrary detention and torture and other ill-treatment

There was widespread use of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment to obtain information and confessions from suspects under interrogation. The CNDH reported receiving 1,662 complaints of torture and ill-treatment during the year. There were no reported convictions for torture during the year.

Pre-charge judicial detention (arraigo) continued to be used routinely by federal and state prosecutors to hold suspects for up to 80 days pending investigation. Arraigo detention seriously undermined the rights of detainees, whose access to lawyers, family and medical attention was severely restricted, creating a climate in which reports of torture and ill-treatment were routine. In November, the UN Committee against Torture called for the abolition of arraigo. However, only the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Yucatán eliminated its use.

  • On 18 January, three brothers – Juan Antonio, Jesús Iván and 14-year-old Luis Adrián Figueroa Gómez – were picked up by judicial police in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state. They were reportedly beaten, threatened and given electric shocks to force them to confess to extortion of local businesses. Their statements were video recorded and filed as evidence. However, signs of torture were ignored by officials, when the three were remanded in custody. They filed a complaint of torture, but by the end of the year there was no information about any investigation into their allegations.
  • On 1 December, violent protests in Mexico City against the inauguration of the new President resulted in 97 detentions. The majority of those detained were released in the following days. The Federal District Human Rights Commission documented instances of ill-treatment and torture as well as arbitrary detentions. On 27 December the remaining 14 detainees were released on bail. There was no information available on the investigation into alleged abuses committed by police.

Excessive use of force and extrajudicial executions

The CNDH recorded at least 25 killings of bystanders in armed encounters between criminal gangs and the security forces. Failure to conduct full investigations of the vast majority of killings prevented identification of many victims, clarification of circumstances of the killings, and the prosecution of perpetrators.

  • On 3 February, an Indigenous man, Carmen Puerta Carrillo, was shot and killed as he drove by a military base in the community of Baborigame, municipality of Guadalupe y Calvo, Chihuahua state. Eyewitnesses reported that soldiers opened fire without warning or provocation. Relatives were reportedly warned by military officials not to pursue the legal complaint.
  • The CNDH issued a damning report in March on the killing of two student teachers from Ayotzinapa rural teacher training college in Guerrero state during protests in December 2011 and the torture and ill-treatment of other students. The report implicated federal and state officials in the abuses. Three state officials were in prison, but many others were not brought to justice during the year. In May, Vidulfo Rosales, a human rights lawyer working on the case, received a death threat.

Enforced disappearances

In December, a leaked report from the Federal Attorney General's Office indicated that there had been at least 25,000 reports of abductions, disappearances and missing persons throughout the country during President Calderón's administration. Criminal gangs were responsible for the majority of abductions, but public officials were also implicated in some cases. The CNDH was investigating 2,126 cases of reported enforced disappearances.