by DD Borderland Beat
In what might be a first (at least no one can remember a previous time), the Mexican army apologized for it's soldiers using torture. General Salvador Cienfuegos, the defense minister, read out the apology before 26,000 soldiers assembled at a military base in Mexico City. "In the name of all of us who make up this great national institution, I offer my heartfelt apology to all in society wronged by this unacceptable event," he said.
The apology came in response outrage over a video surfaced of a young woman being interrogated by a Federal Police officer and 2 soldiers and having the mizzle of an assault rifle placed against her head and having a plastic bag pulled tightly over her head and face so that she couldn't breathe. The video and the story can be seen on BB here.
But the story of the top general in the Mexican army apologizing may be a bigger story than the video of the torture. We can only speculate on what motivated his apology, but he army has been under increasing pressure because of all of publicity in the recent past about accusations of Human Rights violations, including torture.
In the past the military has usually been in a defense mode against accusations of abuse. It has tried to cover up incidents of abuse, accused the victims of abuse as liars or criminals or both and exaggerating their treatment Critics of the administration have long contended that using the military for police functions (for which they are not trained) is a mistake. In some cases the military has replaced an entire police department that was considered corrupt.
Mexico’s Federal Law for the Prevention and Punishment of Torture, passed in 1991, makes it a federal crime to practice torture and establishes that no confession or information obtained through the use of torture can be used as evidence at trial. In June 2008, Mexico passed a constitutional reform affirming that any evidence obtained through torture or other violations of fundamental rights is inadmissible.
A Mexican Supreme Court ruling on November 6, 2013, affirms the Mexican constitutional principle that evidence obtained through torture or other violations of fundamental human rights is inadmissible,
In December 2014, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on Torture published a report that concluded that "torture is generalized in Mexico. It occurs especially from the moment when a person is detained until he or she is brought before a judge, and is used as punishment and as a means of investigation."
In October 2015, it was announced that the United Nations Committee Against Torture found Mexican soldiers had tortured four men with beatings, asphyxiation and electric shocks in the northern state of Baja California in 2009.
That same month, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, recommended that the government set "a time frame for the withdrawal of the military from public security functions."
In February, Mexico's Navy announced that it was investigating several marines for allegedly torturing and sexually abusing six female suspects in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz in 2012. Mexico National Human Rights Commission had recommended the investigation.
While some believe that these kind of reports do not have any effect on government policies, I believe that they have forced the administration to face up to the problems. On top of the scandal involving the "historical truth" of the 43 missing students, all the demonstrations and protests that have followed it and now all the reports of human rights abuses, PRI has to be concerned about the 2018 elections. They need to do more than just make promises.
Surveys are showing that 64% of the population live in fear of being tortured. They know that they can be snatched up off the street, accused of a crime and tortured into a confession saying they committed the crime.
Those are some of the reasons why General Cienfuegos made the historic apology on live TV to the entire country. Here are some of his powerful words that may be the first steps to some drastic changes for the better in Mexico.
""In the name of all who make up this great institution, I offer a sincere apology to all of society offended by this unacceptable event," Cienfuegos said. He urged soldiers and citizens to come forward to report other abuses"
Cienfuegos said such acts "not only denigrate us as soldiers but also betray the confidence that this institution has earned day by day."
He added that "those that act like criminals and disobey orders are not worthy of belonging to the armed forces"..
"Let it be clear: We must not, nor can we confront illegality with more illegality," he said.
'It is necessary to express our indignation about the incident in Ajuchitlán del Progreso. On behalf of all members of this institution I offer an apology to the victims,' Cienfuegos Zepeda said.
General Salvador Cienfuegos, the defense minister, read out the apology before 26,000 soldiers assembled at a military base in Mexico City. "In the name of all of us who make up this great national institution, I offer my heartfelt apology to all in society wronged by this impermissible event," he said. This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address: "http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Mexican-Army-Makes-Rare-Apology-for-Womans-Torture-20160416-0057.html". If you intend to use it, please cite the source and provide a link to the original article. www.teleSURtv.net/english