Known Abusers, But Victims Ignored: Torture and Ill-Treatment in Mexico

Mexican soldiers on patrol, September 20, 2012. (ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/GettyImages)
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October 11, 2012

Known Abusers, But Victims Ignored: Torture and Ill-Treatment in Mexico

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Reports of torture and ill-treatment have risen sharply in Mexico during the militarized campaign of President Calderon’s administration to combat organized crime. The victims are often criminal suspects or simply people
caught up in military and police public security operations. They face beatings, asphyxiation, drowning, electric shocks and death threats at the hands of officials usually with the aim of obtaining information or supposed confessions.

Few dare to report their treatment, fearing reprisals and continued ill-treatment. Those that do, face almost insurmountable obstacles to prevent information obtained by torture serving as evidence in criminal trials let alone
securing justice for the abuses suffered. Impunity for torturers remains the norm encouraging its continued use as a means of investigation and punishment against perceived criminal suspects. The failure to enforce laws and uphold international human rights norms to prevent and punish torture and ill-treatment is routine.

Despite the systematic use of torture and ill-treatment by members of the military and police, the government of President Calderon has ignored and dismissed this reality, leaving victims without access to justice. The hope that
judicial reforms would end incentives to use torture has not materialized. Training programmes and other measures introduced over the last decade to combat torture and end impunity have failed. Nevertheless, the government refuses to acknowledge this situation, allowing the use of torture and ill-treatment to become further ingrained at the same time as making general commitments to protect human rights.

This shameful legacy, that those responsible will have to account for, will be left in the hands of president elect, Enrique Peña Nieto. No action is not an option. He must deliver his commitment made in a letter to Amnesty International before the election "to implement policies and actions to eradicate all acts of torture."

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