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Mexico: Torture and impunity on the rise

last updated Oct 16, 2012

The number of reported cases of torture and ill-treatment by police and military forces has strongly increased during the last years in Mexico’s struggle with powerful drug cartels, a new Amnesty International (AI) report exposes. Under President Felipe Calderón the reports of torture received by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) tripled from 564 cases in 2008 to 1,669 in 2011 with a high estimated number of unreported cases.

Mexican Army
Mexican Army; Source: Wikimedia Commons

The report “Known Abusers, but Victims ignored: Torture and ill-treatment in Mexico” details the failing of the government to tackle the systemic and widespread use of torture as well as the lack of impartial and effective investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators. In the attempt to curtail the power of the various drug cartels, the government deployed military personnel alongside federal and local law enforcement agencies with a history of abusing suspects. AI has called on Mexico to ban the military from carrying out police functions.

Despite existing laws on torture, the perpetrators have enjoyed almost absolute impunity with only 18 torture convictions between 2006 and 2010. In Mexico, suspects of serious crimes can be detained for up to 80 days without being charged and Mexican courts also still accept evidence and confessions obtained under torture, according to AI.

President elect Enrique Peña Nieto has vowed to take substantial steps to end torture and to implement new policies.

AI (2012) Report: “Known Abusers, but Victims ignored: Torture and ill-treatment in Mexico”

AI: Mexico: Authorities urged to end torture epidemic

LA Times: Torture cases rise sharply in Mexico, Amnesty International says

Mexico country profile