Saturday, November 29, 2014

Confessions Obtained by Torture Endemic in Mexico; One Survivor’s Story

Borderland Beat posted by Bjeff republished from Amnesty International

DD; Borderland Beat has followed the story on the car bomb attack on a federal police vehicle in Juarez in 2010.  We followed up with reports of the arrest of 5 individuals charged with the crime and their subsequent video taped confessions.  We then reported in 2012 the allegations by Human Rights NGOs  that the confessions had been obtained by the federal police torturing the accused for five days.   Then in March of this year Borderland Beat reporter Badanov posted a story written by Chris Covert that the five imprisoned had nothing to do with the car bomb attack and had been released from prison.

This story is about one of those who was tortured,  Rogelio Amaya, - what was done to him and how it has affected his life.
Rogelio Amaya and his wife Mayra

“I’ve been working for the drug cartels and helped place a car bomb that killed two police officers,” said Rogelio Amaya, looking straight at the camera lens. He appeared shaken, his body bruised.
Within hours, a version of the video featuring Rogelio and four of his friends confessing to the crime plastered the TV screens of Ciudad Juárez, in northern Mexico along the border with the USA.

The town is one of the most violent in the country, infamous for brutal clashes among competing drug cartels and law-enforcement officers.

The local authorities congratulated themselves for having captured who they said were members of “La Línea”, a local drug cartel who had been terrorizing people in the area for years. They were also blamed for the recent explosion of a car bomb in downtown Juárez.

Drug dealers behind bars. Problem solved.

But a few years into the men’s prison term, the real story of how the video was made came to light – and exposed the shocking use of torture that pervades across Mexico.

Whisked away into a nightmare

Rogelio’s nightmare began on the evening of 10 August 2010.

He was chatting with some friends on the street when several police officers abruptly parked next to them and got out without uttering a word, pushed Rogelio to the ground, violently kicked him and shoved him and his friends into a van.

Once at the police station, Rogelio and his friends were locked into small rooms where the brutal interrogation began.

“Where do you work? Who do you work for?” the officers shouted as the beatings continued, barely leaving any time for him to respond.

They put a cloth on his face and waterboarded him, while screaming: “You are going to say you work for the drug dealers. Who is your boss? Your friends are already confessing and they are blaming you.”

Rogelio’s cries for help joined similar screams emanating from the other cells.
Over the following days, the five men were illegally taken to various police facilities, where the torture only escalated

Rogelio was repeatedly told his pregnant wife and child would be killed if he didn’t admit to being part of the drug cartel. A plastic bag was placed over his head several times, in a simulated attempt to suffocate him. He was beaten and kicked so hard that, a year later, 30 marks and scars were still visible on his body.

“Kill me now! What do you want me to do?,” Rogelio cried.

Then the camera came in.

After Rogelio and his four friends “confessed” to being part of “La Línea”, they were taken to the local branch of the Federal Attorney General’s Office where they had to sign a written statement. A public defender who was present at the time told them there was nothing he could do.

Rogelio’s wife, Mayra, who had been looking for him for days, only learned about her husband’s detention when she saw his TV “confession”.

“I had been looking for him everywhere, in hospitals, in police stations, in bars. When I went to the prosecutor’s office to report his disappearance someone told me they were on the TV, being accused of many things I knew were not true,” said Mayra.

After 80 days in pre-trial detention, the men were finally brought before a judge where they retracted their confessions and reported having been tortured.

To no avail. They were charged with being part of a criminal gang and possessing arms and drugs and locked up in high-security federal prisons far away from home.

The charges against the five men were eventually dropped after forensic experts confirmed that the only shred of evidence against them, their confessions, had been extracted under torture.

Since the ground-breaking Convention against Torture entered into force 30 years ago, confessions extracted under torture are banned. The Convention was ratified by Mexico in 1986, and since 1991, a Federal Law has prohibited torture.

“I always said I had nothing to do with that car bomb, but they kept beating and torturing us. I then had to suffer three years and seven months in jail because of that. Three years and seven months far away from my family, feeling helpless, not being able to see my children growing up. It was very painful,” said Rogelio, now a free man.

Torture epidemic

Rogelio, who now lives in Ciudad Juárez with his wife and two small children, still struggles to overcome the torture he went through.

But his ordeal is far from unusual.
Torture in Mexico is like a virus of epidemic proportions.

 Beatings, fake asphyxiation and sexual abuse are routinely used by the security forces to punish detainees or extract confessions. According to a poll commissioned by Amnesty International, 64 per cent of Mexicans are scared they might suffer it if they are taken into custody.

A report published by the organization also revealed a 600 per cent rise in the number of cases reported to the National Human Rights Commission, between 2003 and 2013. And this institution only detects a small fraction of all possible torture cases in the country.

Torture is so pervasive that anyone can be a target. But being poor or living in a marginalized neighborhood may put you at higher risk as police officers and prosecutors tend to assume that you have fewer resources to defend yourself.

“Mexico’s police and soldiers are so desperate to find anyone to blame for the crimes committed by unscrupulous gangs that they seem not to think twice before arresting someone and getting a confession at any cost. There seem to be no limits,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Most of those responsible for inflicting or authorizing torture never face justice: only seven torturers have ever been convicted in federal courts

But while thousands try to cope with the consequences of torture, the Mexican authorities are turning a blind eye to this epidemic.

Gravely flawed investigations by prosecutors and human rights commissions routinely under-report or dismiss well-founded claims. On paper, Mexico has adhered to the highest international standards in relation to forensic examination of alleged torture victims for over a decade. In reality, forensic examinations tend to be poor, late, re-traumatizing and biased against the victim, as in Rogelio’s case.

But he was one of the lucky few who could contact independent forensic experts. Their expert report tore apart the case against him paving the way for his release without charge. So far, no one has been brought to justice for torturing Rogelio and he has not received any compensation.

“I’m going back to my normal life in Ciudad Juárez, with my family, my job, going to therapy, trying to be as well as I can for my family. But I will never stay silent about what happened to me. All I want is for the government to admit it acted wrongly, that it made a mistake, and for the people who caused all this pain to be punished,” he said

When released  Rogelio scooped his daughter in his arms and she started crying.  She didn't know who he was.


  1. Of everyone being accused will say they didn't do it or that they aren't guilty while at the same time police in mexico are so corrupt and deceitful it gets to the point where you don't know who to believe. He should be grateful he is out and still alive. Mexico has always been a country where money talks, bullshit walks and everyone has a price. While this is a great story it still doesn't clear the fact that he is still guilty or innocent only that he is alive and free.

    1. Not sure what you meant by "doesn't clear the fact that is still guilty or innocent only that he is alive and free".
      The Attorney General said "that these people had nothing to do with organized crime, or with drugs, and the accusations were baseless."

      The attorney for the accused said that the Attorney General only had proof from the same agents that detained them, and the five youth’s confession “extracted under torture.”

      he defense requested application of the Istanbul Protocol to prove torture, thereafter corroborated by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), which prompted the Attorney General to issue is recommendation number 75/2011.

      After that point, the attorney said that in a meeting Mexico’s current Attorney General, Jesús Murillo Karam promised to apply other tests under the Istanbul Protocol, and if at least one test came back positive then they would all go free. All five tested positive.

      The Attorney General kept his word.

    2. Now they will pick up five random police and extract confessions by torture!

  2. I would go find these police men and feed them to some hungry dogs

  3. Protecting the cartels at all costs.How do these policemen sleep at night knowing they accepted money so some innocent can pay the price of wrongful imprisonment?Keep speaking up the wrongfully accused or this will keep continuing and nothing will change.Sure is the middle ages down there.

    1. People in Mexico are void of any semblence of a conscious.
      Simply put: it is a third world nation with a savage mindset.

  4. If all the criminals in prison in mexico were released and all the mexican police and government officers were put in prison, mexico would be a more prosperous and safe nation, and that is not counting the innocent or guilty on any side...
    ¡¡¡@8:55 could be kept in prison to be la perra de la carcel until he gets it right.!!!
    --El tigere leyzaola was the detetive in charge of the fabrication of confessions? Sounds like something he used to do in tijuana, we need the names of the popolizetas, to be fair to their victims, otherwise, the motherfucking mexican government is still protecting its criminal polizetas and popolice, that includes murillo karam...

    1. That 1st sentence is sure food for thought.There is probably some truth to that that Mexico would be safer if everything was reversed.

  5. Canadiana: in the name of accuracy, murillo karam, the current attorney general, released the accused on the basis of proven torture, but is not prosecuting the police officers or investigators who did it,WHOSE NAMES MUST BE AVAILABLE on the records. also the real guilty bombers do not seem to have been found, and no cartels are paying for anything here, just police against citizens who seem to be innocent, or just not proven guilty or, or, or, or... as usual...
    --real proven fabricators of guilty parties, like genaro garcia luna and isabel miranda "de Wallace", are still free and roaming the hollow halls of the mexican justi¢¢¢ce system, and the country, international impunity abuser garcia luna on the US, and la "senora de wallace" on the now priista government, you can call her 'the most twisted crica south of the rio grande' see or google: la senora de wallace; have a barf bag close

    1. What do the police have a quota to get whether they are guilty or not?

  6. And people here are always saying that when a cartel member gets caught they start snitching on everybody. No wonder why huh? Getting confessions under torture is a daily basis thing in mexico. Tehuacanasos con chile piquin, toques en los huevos, madrisas etc etc etc.

    Atte: El Cardenal Gasdas.

  7. Mexican police must pay a quota to their bosses, and arrest anyone for any crimes, those arrested will confess to anything, and may times if they retract their statements and plead not guilty or get lawyers who really do their job, the risk murder, rape or torture in prison...
    --you've been getting with the program canadiana, make a list of concepts and google it everyday, weigh the pros and contras and make up your mind, and if your pinchi guey don't like it, then he'll know, 'it's the time to cry again'


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