Mexico: New torture law, glimmer of hope that must translate into justice

Mexico’s new General Law on Torture is a welcome step forward to tackle the country´s human rights crisis. Authorities must now ensure all those responsible for these heinous crimes under international law face justice, Amnesty International said today.

Mexican Congress today finally passed the General Law on Torture which was promised over two years ago by the Mexican president after a national public outcry following massive human rights violations in the case of 43 disappeared students. The Mexican Senate today approved a final version which had been debated by both chambers of Congress. 

“Unless the Mexican authorities make a real effort to ensure all those responsible for the thousands of cases of torture reported every year across the country are brought to justice, this law will be nothing but words on paper. We must not allow this to continue to be the case,” said Tania Reneaum Panszi, executive director of Amnesty International Mexico.

Unless the Mexican authorities make a real effort to ensure all those responsible for the thousands of cases of torture reported every year across the country are brought to justice, this law will be nothing but words on paper. We must not allow this to continue to be the case
Tania Reneaum. Executive Director of Amnesty International Mexico

Torture is a widespread practice in Mexico. People are routinely tortured in an attempt to force them to sign false “confessions”.

Mexico’s law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and courts still fail to investigate, prosecute and punish torture by officials. Of the thousands of complaints of torture filed each year, only 15 cases have resulted in federal criminal convictions since 1991. Criminal charges against those suspected of criminal responsibility are very rarely presented, if at all.

The law passed by Congress today establishes an absolute prohibition on torture and ensures that evidence that has been obtained through torture must be excluded from trials.

Verónica Razo is one of the thousands of victims of torture in Mexico.  She has spent nearly six years in prison without a sentence.

In June 2011, federal police abducted her outside her house in central Mexico City when she was on her way to pick up her children from school. She was raped and tortured for 24 hours until she signed a “confession”. Her two children await anxiously for her release while she remains behind bars. 

“The Mexican Congress today passed a law which reflects the tireless efforts of countless human rights organizations and survivors of torture to ensure that that this horrendous crime under international law and human rights violation is eliminated,” said Tania Reneaum Panszi. 

“Yet, while torture survivors such as Verónica Razo remain in prison, this law cannot be judged as effective. It is time for laws to be put fully into practice in Mexico, and for Verónica to be at home with her family.”

Yet, while torture survivors such as Verónica Razo remain in prison, this law cannot be judged as effective. It is time for laws to be put fully into practice in Mexico, and for Verónica to be at home with her family
Tania Reneaum. Executive Director of Amnesty International Mexico

“In addition, Until a General Law on Enforced Disappearances is not passed by Congress as promised by the president in 2014, the Congress´s work cannot be considered complete,” said Tania Reneaum Panszi.

Once signed by the president, this law will enter into force nationwide and replace the existing federal and state laws on the issue.