PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 41/021/2009
21 April 2009
UA 103/09 Torture/Threats/legal concern
MEXICO 11 men held without charge in a detention centre known as “Quinta Pitiquito”
Eleven men recently arrested in two separate police operations which took place in the towns of Tuxtla Gutiérrez
and Ocosingo, Chiapas state, are being held without charge in an informal detention facility. All men have
restricted access to legal counsel and their families. Relatives and local human rights organizations reported that
they have suffered torture and threats.
On 7 April, five men were arrested in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the Chiapas state capital, after staging a protest in front of
the local prison where their relatives are held. They protested because they believe that their relatives, belonging
to a farmers’ organization known as MOCRI-CNPA-MN, are being held on false charges. The police also searched
the office of their organization and took computers, electronic and paper files, office equipment and money.
After the arrest, the five men were held incommunicado for two days and were taken to a disused hotel in Chiapa
de Corzo municipality called “Quinta Pitiquito”, which is used by the Office of the Chiapas State Prosecutor as a
detention facility. While in detention, one of the leaders of the protest and member of MOCRI-CNPA-MN, Erick
Bautista Gómez, reported having been repeatedly punched in the stomach, slapped and having his hair pulled
hard. When his sister was allowed access to him in prison, Erick Bautista Gómez was told that if he did not
cooperate, “something bad” (algo desagradable) would happen to her.
On 14 April, six men from the Tzeltal Indigenous community of San Sebastián Bachajón, Chilón municipality,
were arrested while they were shopping in the town of Ocosingo. They belong to an Indigenous community
believed to be sympathetic to the National Zapatista Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional,
EZLN). The EZLN is an armed opposition group which has been militarily inactive for over a decade, and sustains
a social movement and local independent governments of Indigenous communities in Chiapas.
The six men were also taken to “Quinta Pitiquito”. A local human rights organization who has visited them
reported that they had been tortured by members of the Chiapas police that arrested them, and had visible signs
of beatings. Once in detention they were made to sign statements they did not understand, as their knowledge of
Spanish is limited. There was one interpreter, but he did not speak their language (Tzeltal).
Several Mexican states use pre-charge detention (arraigo) in order to detain suspects while conducting an
investigation. The suspects are not charged, but a judge orders their retention on the request of the prosecutor.
They may be held for up to 80 days before the prosecutor is required to charge or release them. Amnesty
International and other human rights organizations have documented on several occasions how this form of
detention may result in torture or other ill-treatment. Suspects are frequently denied access to lawyers of their
choice, family or medical attention. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated in 2002 that arraigo
amounts to a form of arbitrary detention and creates an environment conducive to the use of coercion.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Spanish or your own
- urging the authorities to ensure that all 11 men currently held in Quinta Pitiquito, municipality of Chiapa de
Corzo, Chiapas state, are not tortured, ill-treated or otherwise forced to give statements against their will;
- calling on the authorities to charge the men with a recognizable offence or release them;