Mexico: Mexico: Authorities must ensure justice and reparations for Victoria Salazar’s death at the hands of the police

The Mexican authorities must ensure the protection of Victoria Esperanza Salazar’s two daughters and inform her family of the whereabouts of her eldest daughter, who remained unaccounted for at the time this press release was published, said Amnesty International, the Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI) and the Independent Monitoring Group of El Salvador (GMIES) today. They must also guarantee the family's rights to truth, justice, full reparation for damages, and the dignified repatriation of her body, the organizations said, following the publication of a video showing how four police officers caused Victoria’s death through use of excessive force in Tulum on 27 March.

“They held my daughter down too forcefully. They tortured her, to put it bluntly. You can hear her screaming. I think her final screams came when they snapped her neck and broke several of her ribs. I believe that no human being deserves to die like this,” Victoria’s mother Rosibel Emérita Arriaza told Amnesty International.

“As a mother I know I won’t get my daughter back, I’ll only be left with the memories I have of her. All I ask for is genuine justice, for them to investigate exactly what happened in this abuse of authority by these four people... that they face the full weight of the law. The Mexican state must also take responsibility as a state, because this was a similar case to what happened in the United States with [George] Floyd.”

The Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) publicly confirmed that Victoria Salazar had been in Mexico as a refugee since 2018. Rosibel confirmed that on the afternoon of Monday 29 March she learned of the location of Victoria’s youngest daughter, who is 15 years old, but did not know the status or location of her eldest daughter, who is 16. She said that no Mexican authority had contacted her and that she only found out about the killing of her daughter from someone who saw it on the news.

The Quintana Roo Human Rights Commission told Amnesty International it had no information on the whereabouts of the elder daughter and that she was not in the custody of the National System for Integral Family Development.

It is extremely concerning that the Mexican authorities have not informed Victoria’s family about the whereabouts of her two daughters. The organizations behind this press release call on the Mexican authorities to make contact with Victoria Salazar’s family to clarify the whereabouts of both girls and guarantee their safety. They must also take all necessary measures to ensure the dignified repatriation of Victoria’s body to El Salvador, including granting visas to her family and covering their travel and other related expenses.

As Amnesty International stated in the report Mexico: The (r)age of women: Stigma and violence against women protesters, published in early March, the authorities should establish an ongoing monitoring and oversight mechanism to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of existing use of force policies, protocols and guidelines. In investigations into unnecessary and excessive use of force, they should establish not only the responsibility of individual police officers, but also the possible responsibility of members of the chain of command.

The authorities should constantly train police forces in human rights, including women’s rights and consciousness of gender-based violence, with theoretical and practical tools in accordance with international best practices. They should carry out constant and exhaustive evaluations of police training, as well as evidence of its results and impact, and guarantee the existence of a specialized, external and independent mechanism in charge of monitoring, supervising and improving these institutions.

We consider it unacceptable that police abuses such as Victoria’s femicide continue to occur in Mexico. The authorities must strengthen the police forces with specialized training in the appropriate use of force to prevent grave human rights violations from being committed by those who should be protecting us.