EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 41/15/94
UA 306/94 Health concern / Prisoner of conscience 19 August 1994
MEXICO Manuel Manríquez San Agustín, musician
Manuel Manríquez San Agustín, a musician from the Otomí indigenous community
of Ranchería Piedra Blanca, Tutotepec, in the state of Hidalgo, is currently
on a dry hunger-strike demanding his release from the Reclusorio Preventivo
Norte, a prison in Northern Mexico city. He has been on dry hunger-strike
since 15 August 1994 and is said to be in a critical condition.
Manuel Manríquez San Agustín was arbitrarily arrested, without a warrant, by
the Federal District's judicial police in Mexico City on 2 June 1990. Manuel
Manríquez remained incommunicado for four days under police custody where he
was brutally beaten, nearly asphyxiated and received burns and electric shocks.
He was forced to sign papers he could not understand, as he did not speak
Spanish at the time. A prison doctor later certified that he showed signs
of having been tortured.
Manuel Manríquez San Agustín was accused of murder and brought before a judge
who, based on his "signed confession", remanded him in prison. Despite the
illegality of his detention, the torture to which he was subjected and the
lack of evidence, he was sentenced to 24 years' imprisonment in July 1991.
The sentence was confirmed on appeal in February 1992. A further appeal against
this sentence was rejected in 1993.
Since his imprisonment, Manuel Manríquez San Agustín has become increasingly
involved in campaigning for an end to torture and other human rights violations
in Mexico. This is his fourth hunger-strike.
The governmental National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de
Derechos Humanos, CNDH) has recognized that Manuel Manríquez San Agustín was
tortured. Amnesty International has repeatedly called for his immediate and
unconditional release as a prisoner of conscience.
Amnesty International continues to receive reports of widespread torture in
Mexico, despite some legal and administrative measures introduced by the Mexican
government in 1992. Mexican authorities, including outgoing President Carlos
Salinas de Gortari, have continued to make public statements vowing to curb
the practice of torture and to bring those responsible to justice. To date
and to Amnesty International's knowledge, no one has been convicted under the
1992 Federal Law to Prevent and Punish Torture (Ley Federal para Prevenir y
Sancionar la Tortura).
Presidential elections are taking place on 21 August 1994 and the new president
is expected to assume office in mid-December.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Spanish or in your own language:
- expressing serious concern about Manuel Manríquez San Agustín's health and
requesting that proper medical care be given to him at all times;
- calling for his immediate and unconditional release as a prisoner of
- urging that those responsible for his arbitrary detention and torture be