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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                    

United Mexican States (Mexico)

Mexicans are particularly vulnerable to enforced disappearances, which remains a tremendous challenge for the government despite efforts to address the missing-persons backlog in recent years. In addition, Mexicans in police custody are at risk of torture by the authorities, and must also navigate a prison system where due process and physical safety are in short supply.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Description: Mexico


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Mexico.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

Mexico president to order release of federal prisoners

wd/aw (Reuters, AFP), 30 July 2021

[ Long URL ]

[accessed 30 July 2021]

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Thursday that he will soon sign a decree to release thousands of federal prisoners under certain conditions.

The order would apply to federal prisoners who were victims of torture.

The decree would also liberate prisoners aged 75 and older who have not committed serious crimes, along with inmates over 65 with chronic illnesses who have not committed grave offenses.

Last but not least, the order will free long-term prisoners who have not yet been sentenced for non-serious offenses. Non-sentenced prisoners who have been behind bars for more than 10 years will be released as part of the decree.

The Mexican government under Lopez Obrador has promised to eradicate the torture of prisoners, after harsh criticism from the UN and human rights organizations.

Beatings, sexual and psychological abuse and other methods have reportedly been used on prisoners.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Mexico

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 28 July 2021]


There were reports of numerous forced disappearances by organized crime groups, sometimes with allegations of state collusion.

Investigations, prosecutions, and convictions for the crime of forced disappearance were rare.

In February a federal judge in Monterrey sentenced five marines to 22 years in prison and ruled the secretary of the navy should publicly apologize for the 2013 forced disappearance of Armando Humberto del Bosque Villarreal in Colombia, Nuevo Leon. Hunters found the body of del Bosque in a forest outside the naval base two months after he disappeared.

Nationwide, the CNB reported the exhumation of the remains of at least 2,361 persons in 1,413 clandestine graves between December 1, 2018, and November 30, 2020. In July the CNB reported that between January 2006 and June 2020, officials located 3,978 clandestine graves and exhumed 6,625 bodies. The same report noted that between December 1, 2018, and November 2020, of the 894 bodies identified, 506 were returned to families.


Federal law prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as the admission of confessions obtained through illicit means as evidence in court. Despite these prohibitions, there were reports of security forces torturing suspects.

In November 2019 the NGO Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights released a 12-year study on torture, which registered 27,342 investigations from 2006 to 2018. There were 10,787 federal investigations and 16,555 state-level investigations, of which 50 resulted in sentences, 15 of which were later exonerated.

Impunity for torture was prevalent among the security forces. NGOs stated authorities failed to investigate torture allegations adequately.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Mexicans are subject to the threat of violence at the hands of several actors, including individual criminals, drug cartels that operate with impunity, and police officers who are often susceptible to bribery. Mexicans are particularly vulnerable to enforced disappearances, which remains a tremendous challenge for the government despite efforts to address the missing-persons backlog in recent years. In addition, Mexicans in police custody are at risk of torture by the authorities, and must also navigate a prison system where due process and physical safety are in short supply.

Abuses during criminal investigations are rife ....

Former police officers detained in Mexico on charges of torture

Prensa Latina News Agency, Mexico, 18 March 2020

[accessed 7 April 2020]

Two elements of the now-defunct Federal Police of Mexico were apprehended under the charges of torturing some of the detainees for the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, the entity confirmed today.

The detainees allegedly subjected several detainees to torture in October 2014 to compel them to plead guilty to the disappearance of the missing 43 pedagogy students.

Mexico vows to eradicate torture of detainees

Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, Geneva, 25 April 2019

[accessed 12 May 2019]

Activists said on Wednesday that Mexico’s security forces and prison authorities commit systematic torture and rape of detainees with “near-universal” impunity.

Asphyxiation and electric shocks are used, as well as sexual violence, 120 groups said in a joint statement.

Out of 8,335 torture investigations, the federal special prosecutor’s office reported last year that it had brought charges in only 17 cases, the groups said.

Mexico human rights commission accuses 32 marines of torture

The Associated Press AP, Mexico City, 6 September 2018

[accessed 6 September 2018]

[accessed 8 January 2019]

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission is calling on federal authorities to investigate the allegedly illegal detention and torture of 17 people by marines enlisted in the country's fight against drug cartels.

The commission issued a statement Thursday detailing sexual assaults, beatings, electric shocks and suffocation committed by marines against their captives before they were turned over to federal law enforcement.

In Mexico missing students case, suspects allege torture

Mark Stevenson, Associated Press, 10 May 2016

[accessed 10 August 2016]

[accessed 10 August 2016]

In previously unseen court documents obtained by The Associated Press, 10 of the suspects described a chillingly similar script: First the questions, then the punches, electric shocks and partial asphyxiations with plastic bags; then, finally, the threats to kill their loved ones unless they confessed to stories that backed up the government's line.

Some said they were given planted evidence or prefabricated stories to support the government's conclusions.

"They were giving me electric shocks in the testicles and all over my body," one of the suspects, Patricio Reyes Landa, a gang member who was detained a month after the students vanished, told a judge in July, according to the documents obtained by AP. "All this time, it was about two and a half hours, I was blindfolded and they were hitting me."

"A person came up and took off my blindfold and showed me a photo of my family — my two daughters, my wife and my brother," he said. "He said if I didn't do everything they told me to, they were going to rape my daughters. ... I told them I was going to do everything they asked."

Leaked Video Shows Mexican Police Torturing Detained Man

telesur, 14 May 2016

[accessed 9 August 2016]

[accessed 8 January 2019]

The video, submitted anonymously to local media El Proceso, Aristegui Noticias, and Animal Politico through the free speech platform MexicoLeaks, shows an alleged officer of the south central state of Mexico's Attorney General’s office repeatedly suffocating Silverio Rodriguez Martinez by forcing a plastic bag over his head.

Mexico’s Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights has said that evidence suggests torture is a widespread practice among police forces throughout Mexico as part of criminal investigations.

Surviving death: Police and military torture of women in Mexico

Amnesty International, 28 June 2016, Index number: AMR 41/4237/2016

[accessed 2 August 2016]

Torture is widespread in Mexico’s “war on drugs”, but the impact on women has been largely ignored or downplayed. This report analyses the stories of 100 women who have reported torture and other forms of violence during arrest and interrogation by police and armed forces. Severe beatings; threats of rape against women and their families; near-asphyxiation, electric shocks to the genitals; groping of breasts and pinching of nipples; rape with objects, fingers, firearms and the penis – these are just some of the forms of violence inflicted on women, in many cases with the intention of getting them to “confess” to serious crimes.

Torture in Mexico

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (irct)

Developed in collaboration with the Collective Against Torture and Impunity (CCTI), July 2014

[accessed 31 July 2017]

Torture is systematically practised by the Mexican government, coupled with acts of arbitrary detention, forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. It remains a common method in the fight against drug trafficking and the criminalisation of social protest.

Torture is out of control in Mexico. Implement the Istanbul Protocol

Amnesty International

[accessed 17 May 2015]

Mexico's military broke into Claudia Medina Tamariz's home in Veracruz in 2012 and took her to a local military base. According to her testimony, she was tortured with electric shocks, sexually assaulted, beaten, and kicked and left tied to a chair in the scorching afternoon sun. She is one of countless people tortured in Mexico. Claudia’s torture complaint is still with the Federal Attorney General's Office, and there has been no progress in the investigation into her accusations of torture.

Mexican Senate approves reform on enforced disappearances and torture

EFE News Service, Mexico City, 30 April 2015

[accessed 10 May 2015]

[accessed 28 August 2016]

The Mexican Senate has unanimously approved a bill empowering the Congress to pass legislation on enforced disappearances and human rights violations such as torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

The National Registry of the Disappeared or Missing Persons says 25,821 people in the country have been subjected to enforced disappearances or torture without reason, and that no authorities have been held accountable.

Omar Fayd of the Institutional Revolutionary Party argued that lawmakers could not turn a deaf ear to the demands of society, alluding to the mass protests that have taken place in the country since the disappearance of 43 students, allegedly perpetrated by corrupt authorities and organized crime groups last September in the state of Guerrero.

Experts of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, which is investigating the case of the missing students, urged the Mexican Senate to approve the constitutional reform on enforced disappearances in April.

Reports in recent months by U.N. officials asserting that enforced disappearances and torture are widespread practices in Mexico have further put pressure on the country to change.

UN Investigator Outs Mexico's Effort to Whitewash Torture Report

Elisa Vásquez, PanAm Post, 6 April 2015

[accessed 13 April 2015]

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez says he was pressured by the Mexican government to alter the results of an investigation that determined torture in the country is “widespread” and goes virtually unpunished.

“Torture and ill-treatment in the moments following detention and before detainees are brought before a judge are generalized in Mexico and occur in a context of impunity,” states the report.

“The aim usually [is] to inflict punishment or to extract confessions or information. There is evidence of the active participation of police and ministerial police forces from almost all jurisdictions and of the armed forces, but also of tolerance, indifference or complicity on the part of some doctors, public defenders, prosecutors and judges.”

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry Secretary José Antonio Meade further challenged the rapporteur’s account and claimed the Mexican government has made “significant progress” in 13 of the 14 open cases Méndez studied for his report.

 Torture in Mexico Is out of Control

Olivier Acuña, teleSUR, 22 March 2015

[accessed 7 April 2015] Torture-in-Mexico-Is-out-of-Control-20150322-0002.html

[accessed 8 January 2019]

the number could be much greater, said David Sanchez, human rights defender. The practice of torture by security forces in Mexico is out of control, human rights defender David Sanchez told teleSUR on Sunday, adding that complaints by victims of cruel and unusual punishment by police and military have increased by about 600 percent compared to 2003.

 “The fact is that in all the history of human rights violations in Mexico, only one case has actually ended in a sentencing. All other case of torture go unpunished and this is a deterrent for people to lay charges,” he said.

20 Mexico state officials under investigation for torture, cover-up in military killings

Associated Press, Mexico City, 15 January 2015

[accessed 26 March 2015]

[accessed 8 January 2019]

At least 20 Mexico state officials are under investigation in the cover-up of threats and torture of women who were witnesses to the alleged killing of prisoners by soldiers last year, state authorities said Wednesday.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, one of the witnesses described the torture she suffered. She said that when she refused to sign a false statement that all 22 had died in a shootout with soldiers, state officials kicked her in the ribs, shoved her head into a toilet and hit her in the head.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


MILITARY ABUSES AND IMPUNITY - In June, military personnel opened fire on a group of 22 civilians who were inside an empty warehouse in Tlatlaya, state of Mexico, killing all of them. One soldier was injured during the incident.  Accounts from witnesses and a report by the CNDH said that at least 12 civilians were extrajudicially executed. State prosecutors detained two of the three surviving witnesses, beat them, repeatedly asphyxiated them with a bag, and threatened them with sexual abuse to force them to confess to having links to people killed in the incidents, and to say that the military was not responsible for the killings, according to the CNDH. They also threatened and mistreated a third witness, and forced the three witnesses to sign documents they were not allowed to read.

TORTURE - Torture is widely practiced in Mexico to obtain forced confessions and extract information. It is most frequently applied in the period between when victims are arbitrarily detained and when they are handed to prosecutors, when they are often held incommunicado at military bases or other illegal detention sites.  Common tactics include beatings, waterboarding, electric shocks, and sexual torture. Many judges continue to accept confessions obtained through torture, despite the constitutional prohibition of such evidence.

Surviving Mexico’s torture epidemic

Amnesty International, 26 November 2014

[accessed 14 December 2014]

Once at the police station, Rogelio and his friends were locked into small rooms where the brutal interrogation began.

“Where do you work? Who do you work for?” the officers shouted as the beatings continued, barely leaving any time for him to respond.

They put a cloth on his face and waterboarded him, while screaming: “You are going to say you work for the drug dealers. Who is your boss? Your friends are already confessing and they are blaming you.”

Rogelio’s cries for help joined similar screams emanating from the other cells.

Over the following days, the five men were illegally taken to various police facilities, where the torture only escalated.

Rogelio was repeatedly told his pregnant wife and child would be killed if he didn’t admit to being part of the drug cartel. A plastic bag was placed over his head several times, in a simulated attempt to suffocate him. He was beaten and kicked so hard that, a year later, 30 marks and scars were still visible on his body.

Mexico releases Honduran man after five years without trial

Oakland Ross, Feature Writer, Toronto Star, 17 Oct 2014

[accessed 22 November 2014]

Identified by Amnesty International as a “prisoner of conscience,” Angel Amilcar Colon Quevedo finally walked free this week after Mexico’s federal attorney-general decided to drop the charges against him.

While in prison he was “beaten, asphyxiated using a plastic bag, stripped, forced to perform humiliating acts and was subjected to racist abuse,” according to an Amnesty International report on the escalating use of torture in Mexico.

Mexico: Out of control: Torture and other ill-treatment in Mexico

Amnesty International, 4 September 2014

[accessed 22 November 2014]

[accessed 22 November 2014]

Anyone arrested in Mexico is potentially at risk of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Torture and other ill-treatment are frequently used as investigative tools to get “information” and “confessions” from suspects or from people simply caught at the wrong time or place. In this report Amnesty International’s research findings demonstrate how safeguards against torture are ineffective and how investigations are either non-existent or biased against the complainant.

[PAGE 12]  METHODS OF TORTURE -- The most common methods of torture and other ill treatment documented by Amnesty International in Mexico are:

Beatings with fists, boots, gun butts, wooden bars;

Carbonated water or chilli being forced up detainees’ nostrils;

Death threats;

Electric shocks to body parts including toes and testicles;

Mock executions and threat of enforced disappearance;

Near asphyxiation using plastic bags or wet cloths and waterboarding;

Stress positions;

Rape and other forms of sexual violence

Threats against detainees’ families

Seven things you need to know about torture in Mexico

Katie Young, Amnesty International, 2 September 2014

[accessed 16 September 2014]

[accessed 31 July 2017]


Torture in Mexico is, quite frankly, out of control. In the last ten years alone, there has been a 600 per cent rise in the number of reported cases of torture. Between 2010 and the end of 2013, the National Human Rights Commission received more than 7,000 complaints of torture.

An Amnesty survey recently found that a whopping 64 per cent of Mexican citizens are afraid they would be tortured if they were ever to be detained by the police. In the same survey, Australia and China came out at 16 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.


Torture techniques in Mexico all have one thing in common: they’re brutal.

Survivors from around the country report a multitude of torture techniques, including mock executions, cruel beatings, stress positions, asphyxiation, electric shocks and sexual violence..

Drop unfair charges against tortured prisoner of conscience

Amnesty International, 23 July 2014

[accessed 27 July 2014]

Ángel Colón was struck in the ribs, forced to walk on his knees, kicked, and punched in the stomach by the police. He was then blindfolded and taken to a military base where he could hear the screams of other detainees. He was hit repeatedly and threatened that the same would happen to him. A plastic bag was put over his head to provoke near asphyxiation. He was stripped and forced to lick clean the shoes of other detainees and perform humiliating acts. He was repeatedly called a “fucking nigger” (“pinche negro”).

After 16 hours of such torture and other ill-treatment, Ángel was forced to make a “confessional” statement to the federal public prosecutor. Although he subsequently described his experiences to a judge and said that his earlier statement was false and extracted after torture, it still remains in the case file against him.

His allegations were later corroborated by independent forensic experts, but no official investigation has been carried out into his treatment, in violation of Mexico’s obligations under international human rights law. Furthermore, the charges against Ángel Colón - belonging to a criminal gang – are being processed on the basis of the information provided under torture.

Bashings, rape and waterboarding: Victims of torture speak out as part of Amnesty International’s Stop Torture Campaign

Debra Killalea,, 30 May 2014

[accessed 2 June 2014]

Ms Mendez travelled to San Salvador Atenco, in the state of Mexico, in May 2006 to document police abuses against protest demonstrators.   But she never expected to be subjected to horrific abuse herself.   She claims she was violently interrogated for being a human-rights activist before being hit across the head, and dragged inside a police bus.

She heard screams of pain and felt people on the floor of the bus beneath her as officers forced her to walk over them.   “As I reached what felt like the end of the bus, they pushed me down and started beating me again, trying to suffocate me and then they raped me,” she told Amnesty International.   “I could not believe what was happening. As they were abusing me, they forced me to make sexual comments to them and said they were going to kill me.”   The beatings and abuse lasted hours and she eventually arrived at the state prison.

Torture of detainees common in Mexico

E. Eduardo Castillo, The Associated Press AP, Mexico City, 2 May 2014

[accessed 14 September 2014]

[accessed 28 August 2016]

[accessed 31 July 2017]

The torture of detainees in Mexico continues to be widespread and occurs between the time of arrest and when suspects appear before a judge, a United Nations official said Friday after a two-week probe of issue.

U.N. special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez said that signs of torture are found on people arrested by all levels of authority, from the military down to local and state police.

Mendez spoke in a press conference at the end of his visit to Mexico, where he met with officials, activists and victims of torture.

He said practices reported include beatings with fists, feet and sticks, asphyxiating with plastics bags and electric shock to the genitals.

Juarez police officer pleads guilty to torture

Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times, 10 January 2014

[accessed 12 Jan 2014]

[accessed 28 August 2016]

According to the state attorney general's office, police blindfolded the men, covered their mouths with tape and took them to an old juvenile detention center nearby, where the men were beaten because police wanted to know where they sold drugs.

Prosecutors said that one of the men was forced to swallow three bullet casings and then had a gun placed in his hand and told to kill his friend, who had been beaten. When the victim refused, a police officer placed a baseball bat on the outside of his rectum and twisted the bat around.

The men were then beaten again and forced to drink alcohol before being taken to the Delicias police station and were booked on public disturbance charges, prosecutors said.

At the police station, the man who swallowed the bullet casings began having seizures and was taken to a hospital. An X-ray at the hospital found objects in the man's stomach. Doctors gave the man medicine that helped expel them.

10 Juarez police officers charged with torture

Armando V. Durazo, El Paso Times, 14 December 2013

[accessed 15 Dec 2013]

[accessed 28 August 2016]

The officers are charged with breaking into a home at about 10 p.m, on Dec. 15, 2012, beating a couple and one of their three children.

A press statement from the Chihuahua Attorney General's Office said the family was in their home when they heard a commotion outside, which were the officers. Once the officers made their way inside the home, the statement said, they started beating the couple and a 16-year-old boy while asking them where the weapons, money, jewelry and credit cards were located.

When they failed to respond, the officers placed plastic bags over their heads in an attempt to asphyxiate them, the press release said.

Officials said the officers then ransacked the home and took tools, electronic devices, money, jewelry and Avon products.

Activists Hail Release of Mexican in Torture Case

E. Eduardo Castillo, The Associated Press AP, Mexico City, 8 November 2013

[accessed 14 September 2014]

[accessed 28 August 2016]

[accessed 31 July 2017]

Arzate said soldiers snatched him off the street, gave him electric shocks and asphyxiated him. He claimed they also said that his wife would be raped and killed unless he admitted to a role in the 2010 killing of 15 mostly teenagers at a party in Ciudad Juarez. The massacre was one of the worst attacks since Mexico launched an offensive against drug cartels in late 2006.

A judge had previously said that his forced account was too detailed to be fabricated.

Torture in Mexico: "I Still Think it was a Nightmare"

Amnesty International, 30 June 2013

[accessed 1 July 2013]

On 2 February 2011, the 30-year-old mother of four had just dropped three of her children at school in the city of Ensenada, in northern Mexico, when two men wearing balaclavas forced her into a white van and took her away.   Until then, Miriam didn't know the men were soldiers or that she was being taken to a military barracks. She was blindfolded and her hands were tied.   “I didn’t know who they were or anything, and when I asked them they put a gun to my head and told me to shut up or they would blow my head off,” she told Amnesty International.

Miriam was then taken to a military barracks in the city of Tijuana, around 84 kilometres away, where she was kept for a week.

“In that place they tortured me:  they repeatedly put wet cloth over my face and poured water over it so I couldn’t breathe. They gave me electric shocks,” she explained.   Miriam later described how she was repeatedly raped by soldiers while she was there.   The soldiers were trying to force her to “confess” to trafficking drugs through a military checkpoint. She denies any involvement and asserts that she was travelling to visit her mother who lives 45 kilometres away, a journey she took several times a week.

After seven days of torture, Miriam was taken to a pre-charge detention centre in Mexico City. While the abuse stopped, she describes how she would jump at every noise, terrified that her tormentors had returned.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/MEX/CO/4 (2007)

[accessed 3 March 2013]

22. The Committee is concerned about reports that, despite legal provisions to the contrary, the judicial authorities continue to accord evidentiary value to confessions obtained using physical or psychological violence, if they are corroborated by other evidence.

The State party should ensure that any statement which is established to have been obtained as a result of torture shall not be invoked, either directly or indirectly, as evidence in any proceeding, in accordance with article 15 of the Convention, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement has been made.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 13 January 2013]

Mexico’s military and police have committed widespread human rights violations in their efforts to combat violent drug cartels—including killings, torture and disappearances—which have only exacerbated a climate of lawlessness and fear in many parts of the country. These violations persist, and in fact have increased, because the members of security forces who commit them are virtually never held accountable.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


There was widespread use of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment to obtain information and confessions from suspects under interrogation. The CNDH reported receiving 1,662 complaints of torture and ill-treatment during the year. There were no reported convictions for torture during the year.

Pre-charge judicial detention (arraigo) continued to be used routinely by federal and state prosecutors to hold suspects for up to 80 days pending investigation. Arraigo detention seriously undermined the rights of detainees, whose access to lawyers, family and medical attention was severely restricted, creating a climate in which reports of torture and ill-treatment were routine. In November, the UN Committee against Torture called for the abolition of arraigo. However, only the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Yucatán eliminated its use.

On 18 January, three brothers – Juan Antonio, Jesús Iván and 14-year-old Luis Adrián Figueroa Gómez – were picked up by judicial police in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state. They were reportedly beaten, threatened and given electric shocks to force them to confess to extortion of local businesses. Their statements were video recorded and filed as evidence. However, signs of torture were ignored by officials, when the three were remanded in custody. They filed a complaint of torture, but by the end of the year there was no information about any investigation into their allegations.

On 1 December, violent protests in Mexico City against the inauguration of the new President resulted in 97 detentions. The majority of those detained were released in the following days. The Federal District Human Rights Commission documented instances of ill-treatment and torture as well as arbitrary detentions. On 27 December the remaining 14 detainees were released on bail. There was no information available on the investigation into alleged abuses committed by police.


The CNDH recorded at least 25 killings of bystanders in armed encounters between criminal gangs and the security forces. Failure to conduct full investigations of the vast majority of killings prevented identification of many victims, clarification of circumstances of the killings, and the prosecution of perpetrators.


In December, a leaked report from the Federal Attorney General’s Office indicated that there had been at least 25,000 reports of abductions, disappearances and missing persons throughout the country during President Calderón’s administration. Criminal gangs were responsible for the majority of abductions, but public officials were also implicated in some cases. The CNDH was investigating 2,126 cases of reported enforced disappearances.


Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 2   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 13 January 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The justice system remains plagued by delays and unpredictability. In rural areas, respect for laws by official agencies remains tenuous, and coordination between federal authorities and the state and local police forces—which comprise nearly 95 percent of all police—is problematic. Lower courts and law enforcement in general are undermined by widespread bribery. A significant majority of crimes go unreported because the notoriously underpaid police are viewed as either inept or in league with criminals. Torture, arbitrary arrest, and abuse of prisoners persist in many areas. In 2008, a video emerged of police in Guanajuato state teaching trainees how to use torture to extract information from detainees.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 13 January 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – Although the law prohibits such practices, they persisted, and torture in particular continued to be a serious problem. Despite the law's provisions to the contrary, confessions obtained by torture often were admitted as evidence (see section 1.e.). Many citizens distrusted the justice system, including law enforcement officials, and were reluctant to register official complaints. A May study by the Chamber of Deputies Center for Social Studies and Public Opinion found that for every complaint filed with authorities, two or three complaints were not filed because the public perceived the justice system as ineffective.

Authorities rarely punished officials for torture, which continued to occur in large part because confessions were the primary evidence in many criminal convictions (see section 1.e.). Human rights groups linked torture to the pervasiveness of arbitrary detention, as police and prosecutors attempted to justify an arrest, many times without a warrant, by securing a confession to a crime (see section 1.d.). Additionally, investigators often attempted to solve crimes by rounding up likely suspects and extracting confessions through torture.

Although the president signed the Facultative Protocol of the UN Convention Against Torture in March, the government did not generally implement preventive measures against torture and complete transparency in reporting incidents. In March the representative for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that torture continued, and in June Amnesty International (AI) reported that it had documented 46 cases of torture over the previous 18 months. In November the president of the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) Jose Luis Soberanes stated that the CNDH had received 12 torture complaints during the year. According to Soberanes, authorities have added more modern psychological methods of torture to the traditional methods of beatings, burning with cigarettes, near suffocation, and hitting with telephone books.

On July 14, a judge released Victor Garcia Uribe, one of four prisoners identified in June 2004 as a victim of torture. Two others had been released in 2004, and a fourth person remained in prison awaiting results from a review of his Istanbul Protocol filing. While authorities had not punished any police officers accused of torture in these cases, investigations continued at year's end.

Officials in the state of Jalisco failed to act on recommendations from the CNDH concerning reports that police tortured and mistreated protesters detained in May 2004 in Guadalajara. In May AI reported that several detainees were coerced, beaten, or threatened into making confessions or giving the names of those suspected of having carried out sporadic acts of violence that ensued when police clashed with demonstrators at the closing of the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the European Union. The government had not sanctioned any officials involved.

On August 25, Mexico City police released Nadia Zepeda from prison. At the time of her conviction for drug offenses in 2003, Zepeda, then age 18, claimed police raped and tortured her while she was in custody at the police station, and human rights groups stated that her trial was deeply flawed. No sanctions were imposed against those accused, but Zepeda was pursuing complaints against them.

On June 19, local police in Ciudad Juarez arrested American citizen minor Bryan Torres on homicide charges. Torres reported that police beat and threatened him in an attempt to extract a confession to his involvement in the killing of two local police officers. No sanctions were imposed on the officers involved. Torres was appealing his conviction at year's end.

On August 6, an American citizen reported to the district attorney's office in Ciudad Juarez that local police had detained and raped her in the back of a police van. The victim and her family also complained that local police threatened them with arrest when they tried to report the crime at the municipal police station. Of the three officers involved in the incident, one officer was in custody, one officer was released on bail, and an arrest warrant was outstanding for the third officer.

U.S. Library of Congress - Country Study 1997

Library of Congress Call Number F1208 .M5828 1997

[accessed 31 July 2017]

HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS [Data as of June 1996] – Brutality and systematic abuses of human rights by elements of the Mexican internal security forces are pervasive and have largely gone unpunished. Practices cited by human rights groups include the use of torture, extrajudicial killings, disappearances, arbitrary detention, and other cruelties perpetrated against private persons and prisoners. According to several sources, the number and seriousness of such offenses has declined somewhat in the early 1990s. The improvement has been attributed to the greater determination of the national government to prosecute offenders and to the work of national and local human rights agencies in exposing instances of police violations of human rights and in pressing for punishment.

According to the private human rights organization, Amnesty International, state judicial police and other law enforcement agencies frequently use torture in the form of beatings, near-asphyxiation, electric shock, burning with cigarettes, and psychological torture. Most victims are criminal suspects, but others, such as leaders of indigenous groups or civil rights activists engaged in demonstrations or other peaceful activities, have been targeted as well. According to the CNDH, complaints of torture declined from 446 in its first year of operation to 141 cases in its fourth.

New laws enacted in 1991 permit courts to accept confessions only when made before a judge or court official in the presence of defense counsel. Similar rules were adopted by several states. Formerly, confessions obtained under duress were admitted as evidence in court. Some defendants have claimed that even with the change, they still fear torture if they fail to confess.

According to the CNDH, illegal deprivation of liberty is the most common human rights complaint among its human rights cases. Between 1990 and 1992, there were 826 allegations of arbitrary detentions. Torture complaints numbered 446 in the commission's first year but fell to 290 during its second. Nearly 100 nongovernmental human rights monitoring groups also have formed, making it increasingly difficult for law enforcement bodies to remain indifferent to public opinion. Nevertheless, the United States Department of State, in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1995 , reported a continuing failure to try, convict, and sentence prison and police officials guilty of abuse.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Mexico",, [accessed <date>]