Shockingly on 14 February 2013, Canada declared Mexico to be a so-called “safe” country of origin. This means that anyone making a refugee claim from Mexico, is subjected to a fast track refugee process and will not be able to appeal a negative decision. He or she can be returned to Mexico within months.
Mexico was not safe for Miriam López.
On 2 February 2011, Miriam was detained and tortured by Mexican soldiers. In order to get Miriam to implicate herself and others in drug trafficking offences, the soldiers subjected her to electric shocks and near asphyxiation, then raped her three times.
Miriam was eventually released without charges. She has been brave enough to file a formal complaint. Yet nobody has been brought to justice.
Miriam Lopez is not the only one. In the last few years, thousands of Mexicans have reported torture and ill-treatment at the hands of soldiers and police. In the vast majority of cases, those responsible are never held to account.
For years Amnesty International has described a severe public security crisis in many regions of the country. During the Calderón administration, at least 60,000 people were killed and more than 160,000 internally displaced. Much of this violence occurs during inter-cartel territorial disputes, but also as a result of security force operations. Gender-based violence is widespread, with official figures of killings of women rising rapidly in the last three years. Community leaders, journalists and social activists who advocate for human rights have come under attack because of their work highlighting human rights violations. Impunity for these crimes and others persists, fuelling insecurity.
In its own reports the Mexican government has estimated that 26,122 people have gone missing since December 2006
Amnesty International is deeply concerned by Canada’s decision to name Mexico as a safe country. Mexico hasn’t been a safe country for tens of thousands of people, and no one is being held to account.
How will Canada be held to account if failed refugees are returned to torture, rape or death?
For more information on Amnesty’s human rights work in Mexico, click here