Mexico: Mexico: Atenco case: Police violence and sexual abuse of detained persons
Case MEX 090506.1 / MEX 090506.1.CC / MEX 180506.VAW - child concern / violence against women - Follow-up to Case MEX 090506/MEX 090506.CCExcessive use of police force / arbitrary detention / aggression and sexual abuse / death of a minor
Geneva, 18 May 2006
The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) has received new information and requests your URGENT intervention concerning the following situation in Mexico.
The International Secretariat of OMCT has received with concern new information from various human rights organisations, among them the “Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez” Human Rights Centre, member of the SOS-Torture network, concerning the events in the village of San Salvador de Atenco, municipality of Texcoco, in Mexico State: several of the persons who remain in custody in the “Santiaguito” Centre for Penal Readaptation in Almoloya de Juárez, in the same State, were victims of severe aggression, including sexual abuse.
According to the information received, on 3 May 2006, law enforcement officers evacuated with excessive force 18 flower growers/vendors who had posted themselves in front of the “Belisario Domínguez” local market in the village of Salvador de Atenco. The violent removal marked the beginning of increasing violence among the flower growers, supported by various sectors of the population. Nearly 1000 police officers responded with excessive violence, leading to the death of 14-year-old Javier Cortés Santiago
, the injury of almost 50 persons and the detention of more than 200 persons, all due to severe mistreatment (see Urgent Appeal MEX 090506 /MEX 090506.CC). Many of the 200 persons detained between 3 and 4 May were mistreated.
Sources disclosed that at least twenty of the detained women were victims of sexual assault, such as pinches, bites and hits on the buttocks, breasts, lips and ears; several were penetrated with fingers and other objects; some were forced to perform oral sex, and at least seven of the twenty women were raped while ridiculed regarding their gender.
According to available information, each one received primary medical assistance, including the creation of routine medical files upon entering the prison, and the National Human Rights Commission also created medical files for each woman. Nevertheless, out of fear of reprisals and the humiliation caused by such abuse, only two of the women requested gynaecological examinations upon entering the facility. The OMCT fears that for this reason several of the sexually assaulted women had no access to needed medical assistance and might therefore suffer severe future health problems as a consequence of the abuse.
Seven female victims of sexual abuse during these events are willing to file criminal complaints with the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Women with the support of a human rights organisation, and six have agreed to make their cases public.
According to available information, due to visitation restrictions, it has been impossible to establish the exact number of persons remaining in custody, but it is estimated that some 60 persons remain in the “Santiaguito” jail, others having paid bail or agreed that the government would pay the bail within a framework known as “financial awards in the public interest”, on the condition that they accept a public defender. Among those still in detention, 28 of them have been charged with “kidnapping” police officers, a charge which disallows the possibility of release on bail.
Based on available information, regarding the presumed disappearance of Mr. Saúl Ríos Romero
it has been discovered that he is in hiding following a miraculous escape from the police. Mr. Saúl Ríos Romero, a well-known political activist with the People’s Front in Defence of the Land ("Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra", FPDT), a few days ago was reported missing by his family after the state and federal police entered Atenco on 4 May. Nevertheless, Mr. Saúl Ríos Romero, who was detained that day, was able to escape his captors and went into hiding for fear of reprisals. From his location he has denied the accusations of “kidnapping and organised crime” levelled against his colleagues.
Brief reminder of the situation:
The International Secretariat of OMCT had received information regarding the use of excessive police force against demonstrators, with incidents occurring in San Salvador de Atenco. The incidents resulted in the death of a child, Javier Cortés Santiago
, the injury of more than fifty people and the detention of more than 200 people, all in the context of severe mistreatment and excessive violence.
According to information from 3 May 2006, law enforcement officers used excessive force in evacuating 18 flower growers/vendors who had posted themselves in front of the “Belisario Domínguez” local market in the town of Salvador de Atenco. Law enforcement proceeded to detain four of them, Patricia Romero, Raúl Romero, Adalí Sánchez Romero
and Rosalba Castillo
. These flower growers had stationed themselves at the above-mentioned location after events on the previous day, 2 May 2006, during which they and 30 other flower growers, needing to sell their products, were unable to reach an agreement with municipal authorities to sell their flowers in front of the mentioned market.
In the midst of the confusion and violence of the events, various persons were missing for some hours afterward. Among those missing, until 9 May 2006, was Saúl Ríos Romero
, who was detained by police in the 4 May operation in San Salvador Atenco. His name was not on the list of detainees that was issued by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and augmented by non-governmental organisations. His family reported him missing.
Based on the list recently issued by CNDH and corroborated by human rights organisations, the number of detainees, 218>1
, has not changed at the time the urgent appeal of 9 May was issued, and some of the detainees have been injured and hospitalised.
It was learned that a complaint related to these events has been lodged with the CNDH second inspection office (2006/2109/2/Q). The complaint was lodged by a group of civil organisations forming part of the “Decade Against Impunity” Solidarity Network. The complaint reports that the Federal Prevention Police (PFP) have violently searched various homes without warrants. Among the homes searched are those belonging to the active social leaders in the area, Ignacio Del Valle Medina
, who was detained with his son César
, and Adán Espinoza
, who together form part of the “People’s Front in Defence of the Land”, a solidarity movement requested by the flower growers to support them in their demands. According to available information, it appears that CNDH has also officially intervened.
The International Secretariat of OMCT believes that, based on the events described above, there has been a violation of the right to integrity and personal security, the right to freedom, inviolability of the home and legal security, in contravention of the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials2
, the American Convention on Human Rights
and the Mexican Constitution
itself, to the detriment of the inhabitants of Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco.
1 The list of detainees, issued by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and distributed by the “Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez” Human Rights Centre, can be found here on the OMCT web site.
2 Adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, 27 August to 7 September 1990.
Please write to the authorities in Mexico urging them to:
i. Take urgent and necessary measures to guarantee the security and physical and psychological integrity of all those detained during the above-mentioned events that occurred in Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco, in Mexico State, including urgent, adequate and free medical attention for all those who need it;
ii. Undertake immediate and necessary measures to make public the number of detainees, their names and location, as well as the physical, psychological and legal situation of each;
iii. Order the immediate release of all those detained without valid legal charges pending against them, and for those with valid legal charges against them, bring them to a civil tribunal that is competent, fair and impartial, and guarantee them due process throughout their proceedings;
iv. Launch an immediate, exhaustive and impartial investigation into the circumstances of all these events, in particular regarding the allegations of ill-treatment of detainees and the aggression and sexual abuse inflicted on some of the detainees, with the purpose of identifying the responsible parties, bringing them to an independent, fair and impartial tribunal and applying to them the criminal and/or administrative sanctions prescribed by the law;
v. Guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country, in conformity with international human rights norms, in particular the Convention Against Torture.
- Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations in Geneva, PO Box 433. Fax : + 4122 748.07.08 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lic. Vicente Fox Quesada, Constitutional President of the United Mexican States, Residencia Oficial de Los Pinos, Colonia San Miguel Chapultepec, e-Mail : email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: +52 5 55 2 77 23 76
- Attorney General of the Republic, Reforma Norte, esquina Violeta 75. Colonia Guerrero CP. 06300. México DF., Tel: (+ 52.55) 53 46 20 03 E-mail: email@example.com, Fax: (525) 3 46 09 06
- Dr. José Luis Soberanes Fernández, President of the CNDH, México, D.F., Fax: + 52.55.5681.71.99 Toll-free: 01 800 00 869 E- mail: firstname.lastname@example.org correo@ cndh.org.mx
- Lic. Carlos Maria Abascal Carranza, Secretary of Government, México, D.F., Telf.: (+525) 7 05.21.71, Fax: +22.214.171.124.34.14 E-mail: email@example.com
- Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto, Constitutional Governor of the State of Mexico,
Fax: +52 722.276.70.07, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lic. Abel Villicaña Estrada, Attorney General of the State of Mexico, Toluca, Estado de México, Fax: (+52 722) 2153123, E-mail: email@example.com
- Viceadmiral Wilfrido Robledo Madrid, Commissioner of the State Security Agency, Toluca, Estado de México, Teléfono: +52 (722) 2796200/ 2796250, Ext: 4028; Fax: Ext: 4028 (ask for fax line), E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- General Judiciary Council of the State of Mexico, Toluca, Estado de México, Teléfono: +52 (722) 2-15-21-25 y 2-14-21-77, E-mail: email@example.com
Please also write to the embassies of Mexico in your respective country.
Geneva, 18 May 2006
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.