Torture is a generalized problem in Mexico. Its application belittles the authorities who lower themselves morally to perform it, violates the most basic human rights of the detainee and perverts justice, as the information obtained by these means is useless.
The best example of the latter is the investigation on the missing Ayotzinapa students. The “historical truth” promoted by the government about what happened was obtained through torture, something that was suspected initially and which has been recently confirmed by Proceso magazine.
As the story obtained by the interrogators became the discredited official version of the events, after the magazine article was published the country’s attorney general said that they will now investigate what everyone already knew.
Article 20 of Mexico’s Constitution forbids the use of “torment in any form.” Still, the report regarding human rights in Mexico made by the United Nations’ Special Torture Rapporteur in 2014 states that mistreatment of suspects is incorporated predominantly from the arrest and until the detained person is sentenced.
While a poll made by the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica (Research and Economic Teaching Center, or CIDE) revealed that 57% of people arrested at federal detention centers said that they were tortured, 34% said that they were forced to change their testimony.
The assistance of the Mexican air force in the fight against drug trafficking has worsened the state of human rights in the country. Soldiers find themselves in situations for which they are not prepared. Videos have surfaced online showing soldiers, such as the so-called Marino Loko, humiliating suspects by making them dress as women. Others are seen interrogating a female detainee while suffocating her with a plastic bag, among other examples.
The popularity of this last video led to the arrest of the woman’s torturers and, surprisingly, drove Secretary of National Defense Salvador Cienfuegos and National Security Commissioner Renato Sales-Heredia to acknowledge the abuse. “We deem it necessary to apologize,” said Sales-Heredia.
We need less social politeness and more toughness toward torturers.
The lack of political attention to this topic is reflected in the Mexican senate’s delay to approve an anti-torture law sent from Los Pinos a while ago. It is rumored that Sales Heredia and Cienfuegos’ reaction is a “positive step,” as they are finally acknowledging a mistake. It remains to be seen if that “step” will lead to change or if it is just a tactic to neutralize critics and maintain the status quo.