Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat
Distrito Federal. Torture and cruel treatment of civilians by federal forces increased during the administration of President Felipe Calderon. From 2006 until May 31, 2012, the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) received 89 complaints against Army, Navy and Federal Police members involving torture.
At the beginning of (Calderon's) six year term, there were three complaints; in 2007, (there were) 7; in 2008, 15; in 2009, 19; in 2010, 11, and in 2011, 28. There were six complaints up to May, 2012.
Meanwhile, the files for cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment went from 85 to 1,497, according to the organization's statistics, obtained via "transparency" (Ley Federal de Transparencia; similar to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.)
According to the report, Chihuahua is the state with the most complaints, followed by San Luis Potosi, Michoacan, Jalisco, Nuevo Leon, Baja California and Coahuila.
The International Convention against Torture defines the crime as any action by which a person is intentionally inflicted pain or severe suffering, whether physical or mental, for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession, or to punish that person for an act that person has committed or is suspected of having committed. Of the 127 "recommendations" (written findings and directives) sent to Sedena (Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional; National Defense Ministry) regarding torture and cruel treatment, only 10 were complied with in their entirety. The Federal Police complied with one out of 31, and the Navy, one out of 22.
Authorities refrain from punishment
Despite an increase of complaints alleging torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment during the six-year term, the National Defense and Navy Ministries, as well as the Federal Police, have failed to act on the CNDH recommendations. According to a request for information through the Federal Transparency law, the organization pointed out that of the 127 written recommendations sent to the Army from 2006 until May 31 of this year, only 10 have been complied with. The rest have been partially or unsatisfactorily complied with, were rejected, or there may yet be timely compliance, says the report.
The Federal Police, a branch of the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP), has complied with one of 31 recommendations it received, while the Navy has only dealt with one of 22.
In its most recent report, the Association of Christians for the Abolition of Torture, from France (ACAT-Francia) observed that in this six-year term, torture has acquired status and become tolerated as a "method of investigation" in the war against criminal organizations.
"The cure ended up being worse than the disease, as the citizenry found itself caught between the violence of the criminal gangs and that of the security forces. From the latter part of 2006 to July, 2011, there were 40,000 deaths, between 3,000 and 10,000 victims 'disappeared,' according to sources, and thousands of displaced persons", states the study titled, In the Name of the War Against Crime (En Nombre de la Guerra contra la Delincuencia)", financed by the European Commission.
"The argument that asserts that human rights are an obstacle for public safety has become trivial. Likewise, security forces and prosecuting agencies have more room to maneuver in the name of 'the war against crime'".
According to ACAT, abuses occur despite the fact that Mexico has constitutional prohibitions against such conduct and has signed all U.N. international protection documents, such as the "Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment."
For Javier Enriquez Sam, coordinator for the Collective Against Torture and Impunity, the failure to punish for (acts of) torture begins the very moment that authorities refuse to call it by its name, and the CNDH itself does not give torture visibility: "The CNDH uses its criteria because it does not call it torture, but instead, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. For us, its intent is to lower the problem's profile. Its (CNDH's) numbers are very low, they are under reported.
"It uses its own criteria to decide. Why doesn't it call it torture when, in accordance with the definition of the Inter-American Convention, torture is considered to be all cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, whether it is inflicted by a public servant or with (that person's) consent that it be done? Since Mexico has signed all those treaties and conventions, it should respect them," he asserts.
An example of this problem of failure to recognize (torture), he specified, was the Atenco case, in which the Collective documented at least a hundred cases and the CNDH (documented) only about three. He revealed that during the Vicente Fox administration the association gathered 20 to 30 complaints of torture per year, but during the Calderon administration, the number went up to 50. Despite this, says the activist, official statistics are far from real since the majority of abuses are not reported and the cases that come before the prosecuting authorities are dismissed.
"There is a total denial of torture in Mexico. From the time we started bringing complaints in 2004, nobody has been prosecuted for committing torture. That means that not one case has gone before a judge in which torture was recognized and punished.
"Rather, the case has to be brought up at the international level for it to be recognized and sanctions issued and, in that respect, even though the International Court on Human Rights has issued sanctions, these sanctions have been only partially complied with. That is to say, the government is in denial, it's not willing to recognize the torture it commits", he stated.
They confess after beatings and rape
On August 13, 2010, the Federal Police presented five alleged members of the "La Linea" Cartel, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, to the news media. On that occasion, Luis Cardenas Palomino, Chief of Regional Security Division, stated affirmatively that the men were linked to a car bomb explosion, the deaths of two officers from that agency and that they (the suspects) were known for using violence to carry out kidnappings, extortion, home robberies and sexual abuse of a minor.
The following year, the CNDH documented the fact that (detainees) Noe Fuentes Chavira, Rogelio Amaya Martinez, Ricardo Fernandez Lomeli and the brothers Victor Manuel and Gustavo Martinez Renteria were severely tortured so they would incriminate themselves. Despite the evidence of mistreatment, they are still incarcerated, they haven't received reparation for their injuries and the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) refuses to present the police aggressors before the court.
Daniel Amaya Martinez, the brother of one of the victims, states that the group was captured on August 11, when the men were coming out of a house after picking up some home appliances. That's when Federal Police aboard two pickup trucks intercepted them and took them to their barracks.
"They beat my brother with AR-15 rifle stocks, they would fire them, shoot them off, and put the hot barrels against their genitals. They would stick toothpicks under their toenails. A Federal agent was using an icepick to stab his ribs and stomach, looking in a book he was using as a guide so he wouldn't puncture some (internal) organ.
"The worst was the plastic bag. They would put it over his head for a long time until he lost consciousness. Two of them were raped with AR-15 rifles and suffered tears in their rectums," he says.
According to the (CNDH) recommendation delivered to the PGR, they were also tortured while they were being transported to the D.F., at the capital's airport, at the Iztapalapa command post and at the SIEDO offices.
At the PGR offices (Attorney General), SSP personnel forced the detainees to read words written on posters so they could record and broadcast them. Currently, the videos are on the Internet; in one of them, Noe narrates how he set off the car bomb. In another video, Rogelio describes how the recruited attractive women to turn them into killers.
"Two years after they were arrested, 11 months out of those two years have been wasted because the Federal (Police) arresting officers have not shown for a face to face meeting, even though the court has summoned them seven times. The PGR people won't drop the charges and the judge won't release them," Daniel points out.
The Federal Police officers involved in the case are Manuel Calleja Marin, Manuel Granero Rugerio, Federico Lopez Perez, Luis Alberto Gonzalez Gutierrez, Victor Aquileo Lozano and Adan Serafin Cardenas Cruz.
Daniel notes that the CNDH has very little power against institutions like the SSP, the PGR and the courts: "It turns out that the 'recommendation' has no penal or legal effect. It's like carrying a pistol without bullets. They should find out what else they can do to free people. They issue a 'recommendation' and that's it, the judge doesn't give a shit about the 'recommendations', he doesn't care."