Mexico must investigate torture of two peasant farmers

The Mexican authorities must carry out an impartial investigation into the torture of two members of a peasant organization in Chiapas State, after they were arrested without a warrant, Amnesty International has said.

Roselio de la Cruz González and José Manuel de la Torre Hernández , who are currently held in a state prison, were blindfolded, bound and beaten during their interrogation, their lawyer said.

Roselio de la Cruz was beaten and threatened with death, while officials held a plastic bag over the head of José Manuel de la Torre until he almost suffocated. He was then forced to inhale water until he passed out.

Both men were forced to sign papers which they were not allowed to read.

Amnesty International also expressed its concern for a third member of the same organization, José Manuel Hernández Martínez, who is being held 2,000km away, where he is unable to see his lawyer and family.

All three men are accused of illegally occupying land in 2005.

Roselio de la Cruz González and Manuel de la Torre Hernández were both detained by Chiapas state police on 24 October.

The arrests took place during a raid in the Venustiano Carranza municipality on the homes of several members of Organización Campesina Emiliano Zapata (“Emiliano Zapata” Peasant Organisation, OCEZ).

José Manuel Hernández Martínez, a fellow OCEZ member, was arrested on 30 September.

On 16 October he was moved to a federal prison 2,000 km away. This is too far for his family and lawyer to visit him, meaning he is effectively held incommunicado.

Amnesty International has urged the Mexican authorities to:

guarantee  that Roselio de la Cruz and José Manuel de la Torre will not be tortured further or otherwise ill-treated;
conduct an impartial investigation into their torture, with those responsible brought to justice;
ensure that the two men are either released immediately, or charged promptly with a recognizably criminal offence and tried fairly according to international standards, with any evidence obtained through torture ruled inadmissible;
ensure that José Manuel Hernández Martínez has immediate access to his family and lawyer.