HomeNewsBriefTorture is Widespread, Systematic Security Tactic in Mexico: Report
BRIEF

Torture is Widespread, Systematic Security Tactic in Mexico: Report

AYOTZINAPA / 20 APR 2020 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

Of the tens of thousands of investigations into the use of torture in Mexico since 2006, less than one percent have ended in convictions — stark evidence of the country’s inability to tackle such abuse. 

While 27,342 investigations into torture were initiated nationwide between 2006 and 2018, judges handed down just 50 convictions, according to new data published by the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (Comisión Mexicana para la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos — CMDPDH).

According to the report, more than half of torture allegations recorded during this time were attributed to the armed forces, which former President Felipe Calderón deployed to the streets nearly 15 years ago to battle Mexico’s organized crime groups in a “drug war” that wages on today.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

Torture complaints are often not documented. Only about one percent of the 36,401  complaints made to national and state human rights commissions and the Executive Commission of Attention to Victims (Comisión Ejecutiva de Atención a Víctimas — CEAV) were officially registered in the National Victims Registry (Registro Nacional de Víctimas — RENAVI), according to the report.

“Since the start of the ‘war on drugs,’ we have documented that torture committed by security forces … has become increasingly common, to the point of being considered a generalized and at times systematic practice,” the CMDPDH wrote.

InSight Crime Analysis

This data lays bare how the Mexican government has not curtailed the use of torture by security forces, even as countless national and international organizations have for years denounced the practice. 

According to a 2014 report by the special rapporteur on torture for the United Nations (UN), the “generalized” use of torture in Mexico as “punishment” and a “means of investigation” happens with a “disturbing level of impunity.” 

One of the most high-profile instances of widespread torture came in the still ongoing investigation of the 2014 disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College in southwest Guerrero state. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) found in a 2018 report that suspects were arbitrarily detained and tortured by the army and police in order to obtain confessions that were later used as evidence.

Dozens of those detained as part of the investigation have since been released as a result.

SEE ALSO: Mexico Reforms Failing to Prevent Rights Abuses by Military: Report

“The use of torture with impunity in Mexico has been a constant,” said Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, the author of the 2017 book “Los Zetas Inc.” and an expert on security in Mexico.

“It’s one of many pieces that shows just how weak Mexico’s justice and security institutions are, yet there hasn’t been a concerted effort on the part of the government to address the issue,” she told InSight Crime.

Consecutive governments have passed the buck on reforming the local and state police forces that should be enforcing security, choosing to instead create new militarized forces.

The Mexican government has often fallen back on the military to curtail violent armed groups operating in a rapidly changing criminal landscape that has seen record-breaking levels of violence for the past three years. Allegations of increased abuse and torture have followed accordingly.

The military is not a crime-fighting institution and the rates of documented abuse by its ranks reflect its inability to act as such. Little has been done to prepare soldiers to carry out duties outside of armed combat. 

“The extension of the military’s crime-fighting role has come without addressing human rights abuses or the fact that the institution isn’t prepared to deal with this role,” said Correa-Cabrera.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America's largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

HUMAN RIGHTS / 15 FEB 2017

A Senate report on recent proposals that apparently aim to regulate the role of Mexico's military in public security has…

HUMAN SMUGGLING / 30 MAR 2011

In an indicator of the difficulties often faced by Central American migrants, three Mexican customs officers were suspended after a…

MEXICO / 5 DEC 2013

A new self-proclaimed guerrilla army in the state of Guerrero in Mexico has called for the creation of more…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…