United Nations torture prevention experts urge Mexico to focus more on the fight against impunity

23 December 2016

GENEVA (23 December 2016) – The United Nations’ torture prevention body has urged Mexico to focus more on the fight against impunity, including the prompt adoption of the General Law on Torture, which should be in full conformity with relevant international standards. The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) recalls that the effective fight against impunity is one of the most efficient preventive measures that can be taken against torture and ill-treatment.

This call came at the end of the second visit to Mexico by the SPT, when the delegation presented its confidential preliminary observations to, and held a fruitful and cooperative dialogue with, the Mexican authorities and the National Preventive Mechanism.

“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, who headed the SPT delegation.

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

During its 10-day stay in the country, the SPT conducted visits to 32 places of deprivation of liberty in Baja California, City of Mexico, Coahuila de Zaragoza, Guerrero, Morelos, Nuevo León and Veracruz, and held an important number of individual and collective confidential interviews with persons deprived of their liberty.

It also met with authorities, civil society representatives and the National Commission for Human Rights. This allowed the SPT to identify solid findings about the phenomenon of torture and ill-treatment at the moment of detention, transfer and placement of persons deprived of their liberty, which were shared confidentially with the Mexican authorities.

“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. 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,” added Mr. Villavicencio.

The SPT, which visited Mexico from 12 to 21 December, highlighted the importance that the national independent monitoring body, known as a National Preventive Mechanism, is provided with the same unrestricted access when it conducts its visits.

Following the visit, the SPT 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. As with all other States parties to the Optional Protocol, the SPT encourages Mexico to make the report public, as already done following its visit in 2008.

“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”, – concluded the Head of the delegation.

The SPT delegation was composed of: Mr. Felipe Villavicencio (Head of Delegation), Mr. Enrique Font, Mr. Emilio Ginés Santidrián and Ms. Nora Sveaass.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has, to date, been ratified by 83 countries. The SPT communicates its recommendations and observations to States by means of a confidential report and, if necessary, to National Preventive Mechanisms. However, States parties are encouraged to request that the SPT makes these reports public. The SPT is composed of 25 independent and impartial experts from different regions of the world. For more information on the mandate of Subcommittee, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/OPCATIndex.aspx

For use of the information media; not an official record