The toxic combination of a flawed judicial system, untrained police officers and widespread impunity are encouraging arbitrary detentions and leading to torture, executions and enforced disappearances, Amnesty International said in a new report today.
False suspicions: Arbitrary detentions by police in Mexico demonstrates how police across Mexico routinely detain people arbitrarily in order to extort them. They also often plant evidence in an effort to prove they are doing something to tackle crime or to punish individuals for their human rights activism. The report is based on confidential interviews with members of the police and the justice system.
“The justice system in Mexico is completely unfit for purpose and is therefore failing the people massively,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
Canada must put human rights at the forefront of its approach to national security by adopting a rights-based framework in its upcoming reform of current laws, policy and practices, says an Amnesty International policy brief released today.
“For too long, Canadians have been presented with the false and misleading notion that inescapable trade-offs must be made between protection of human rights and ensuring Canadians are kept safe from security threats,” said Alex Neve. “By adopting a human rights-based framework for national security, Canada can demonstrate leadership in addressing grave human rights shortcomings in its current approach while also better ensuring the overall security of its citizens.”
Amnesty International’s policy brief outlines five guiding principles to form the basis of a human rights-based framework to national security and calls for a number of existing laws and policies to be repealed or reformed.
By Kathy Price, Mexico campaigner for Amnesty International Canada
The hug, the smiling faces outside the barbed wire perimeter of El Hongo Prison, tell this latest good news story from Mexico!
Adrián Vásquez is free from a nightmare of torture and unjust imprisonment – free, at last, to return to his wife Judith and their family.
Adrián’s release came in the early morning of December 2nd, more than three years after he was picked up by police in Tijuana and tortured so badly that he required life-saving surgery. The 33-year-old bus driver and father of four was driving his car when police pulled him over, accused him of being a notorious drug trafficker driving a stolen vehicle. Their “evidence” alone was used to charge and imprison Adrián for three anguished years while his trial was ongoing.
Hours after Adrián’s release, there was more good news!
By Kathy Price, Mexico campaigner with Amnesty International Canada
There’s good news and bad news, as the old saying goes.
The good news has names like Ángel Colón (left) and Claudia Medina (below right). Both of them were tortured by Mexican security forces to extract ‘confessions’ but ultimately released from that nightmare, the unjust charges against them dropped, after Amnesty supporters flooded authorities with messages of concern.
There have been other promising developments since Amnesty issued a damning report in September 2014 entitled Out of Control: Torture and Other Ill-Treatment in Mexico.
Three months later, Mexico’s Supreme Court issued guidelines for prompt action by judges when presented with allegations of torture. Then, in August 2015, the Federal Attorney General issued a new protocol for the investigation of torture, and also increased the number of public prosecutors dedicated to investigate such cases.
Marines broke into Claudia Medina's home in Veracruz City on August 7, 2012 and took her away to a naval base where she was subjected to physical, sexual and psychological torture.
By Kathy Price, Mexico Campaigner
The photos arrived in a steady stream on my Facebook feed, a flood of images too numerous to include here - impossible to ignore. From the wide boulevards of Mexico’s capital to the streets of small towns across the country, women and men, young and old, thousands and thousands of them, marched in protest, united in their outrage about what was done in Guerrero State.
Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment thrive behind closed doors. It must stop, and those responsible for authorizing and implementing it must be held accountable.
The UN Convention Against Torture defines torture as "…the intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering for purposes such as obtaining information or a confession, or punishing, intimidating or coercing someone." Torture is always illegal. "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."
Abuse of prisoners doesn’t have to be torture to be illegal. Cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment (CID) is also illegal under international and Canadian law. CID includes any harsh or neglectful treatment that could damage a detainee’s physical or mental health or any punishment intended to cause physical or mental pain or suffering, or to humiliate or degrade the person being punished.