The expert on human rights cautions that arbitrary detention remains prevalent in Mexico.
After a 12-day visit, the UN expert group stated that notable progress has been made in implementing reforms in the country. These include transitioning to an accusatory criminal procedure, following international human rights laws, establishing a National Registry of Detentions, and adopting a more human-rights focused legal system.
‘Catalyst for ill-treatment’
Nevertheless, they acknowledged that “these measures must be combined for the advantage of all individuals residing or passing through Mexico.”
They stated that in Mexico, arbitrary detention continues to be a common occurrence and often leads to mistreatment, torture, forced disappearances, and random killings.
The delegation from the Working Group conducted visits to 15 detention facilities in Mexico City, Nuevo León, and Chiapas. They held meetings with authorities, judges, human rights commissions, civil society representatives, and other relevant parties.
The Working Group and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have prompted legal reforms, but they report that pre-trial detention is still excessively used and is required for a wide range of offenses under the Mexican Constitution.
The experts emphasized the need to eliminate mandatory pre-trial detention and arraigo, a system that allows for the imprisonment of an individual for up to 80 days without formal charges, as it is still allowed under the Constitution, despite its declining usage.
Prevention and accountability
Per the delegation from the Working Group, there have been many instances of the Mexican Armed Forces, National Guard, and local authorities engaging in arbitrary detentions. They do not have adequate civilian and independent oversight to prevent and hold accountable those responsible for these actions.
The experts acknowledged the significant difficulties that Mexico is currently dealing with, particularly in regards to organized crime and the actions taken by the government to address it.
The team of human rights specialists stated that the use of excessive force is common, particularly during the period of arrest until the detainees are brought before a court.
The experts stated that in numerous instances, individuals are subjected to torture and other cruel methods in order to force them to confess or make incriminating statements. They also highlighted that delays in the process of apprehension, surrender to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and transfer to the judicial authority increase the likelihood of severe human rights abuses during this crucial time.
Regarding the topic of detaining migrants during transit, the specialists advised that Mexico should make sure it is only used as a final option, for the briefest amount of time, based on personalized evaluations, in humane conditions, and with access to legal aid.
The Working Group is a component of the Special Procedures within the Human Rights Council. These Special Procedures consist of a group of independent experts, which is the largest in the UN Human Rights system. The experts serve on a voluntary basis and are not employed by the UN, therefore they do not receive a salary for their contributions.