UN rights experts urge Mexico to focus more on the fight against impunity

Street scene in Mexico. Photo: World Bank/Curt Carnemark

23 December 2016 – Concluding a ten-day visit to Mexico, the United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture urged the authorities to redouble its efforts to fight impunity and to immediately adopt the General Law on Torture, in full conformity with relevant international standards.

“Eight years after our first visit to Mexico, the different definitions of the offence of torture continue to generate actual or potential loopholes for impunity,” said Felipe Villavicencio, the head of the Subcommittee delegation, adding that fighting impunity is one of the most effective preventive measures to end torture and ill-treatment.

According to official statistics, there are more than 4,700 open investigations for acts related to torture at the federal level. However, the number of sentences for perpetrators remains disproportionately low.

During its mission, from 12 to 21 December, the Subcommittee visited 32 where deprivation of liberty had been reported, including to Baja California, Mexico City, Coahuila de Zaragoza, Guerrero, Morelos, Nuevo León, and Veracruz. The delegation also held several individual and collective confidential interviews with individuals who had been deprived of their liberty.

We hope that our second visit will contribute to the advances in the fight against torture and ill-treatment in Mexico and lead to a greater respect of the rights of persons deprived of their libertyUN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture

The human rights body also met with authorities, civil society representatives, and Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights to collect information on torture and mistreatment during detention, transfer, and placement of persons who have been deprived of their liberty. Such findings were shared confidentially with the Mexican authorities.

The Subcommittee also underlined that Mexico's independent monitoring body, known as a National Preventive Mechanism, should be provided with the same unrestricted access the Submittee received when it conducts its visits.

“Mexico is a firm defender of human rights at the international level and it was one of the pioneer States in the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture,” said Mr. Villavicencio. “The commitment of Mexico to the prevention of torture was demonstrated during our visit by the excellent cooperation provided by the authorities and the unrestricted and immediate access to the places that we wished to visit in an unannounced manner.”

“We hope that our second visit will contribute to the advances in the fight against torture and ill-treatment in Mexico and lead to a greater respect of the rights of persons deprived of their liberty,” he added.

Following this visit, the Subcommittee will submit a confidential report to Mexico, containing its observations and recommendations on the prevention of torture and ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty. The expert rights body encouraged the authorities to make the report public, as they had done following its previous visit in 2008.

The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, established pursuant to the provisions of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), has a preventive mandate focused on an innovative, sustained and proactive approach to the prevention of torture and ill treatment.

The Subcommittee is composed of 25 independent and impartial experts, who are not UN staff, coming from different backgrounds and from various regions of the world, elected by States Parties to the OPCAT for a four-year mandate and can be re-elected once.


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