Mexico must remove arbitrary detention from its Constitution

Geneva-Denmark-Washington D.C., 7 February 2023 - On 27 January, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) found that the Mexican state had violated the human rights of Gerardo Tzompaxtle Tecpile, his brother Jorge Marcial and Gustavo Robles López, who were arbitrarily detained for three months in 2006. As a redress, the IACHR ordered the authorities to put an end to the practice known as arraigo, that consists in detaining suspects without charges for up to 80 days.

On 12 January 2006, the three men were arbitrarily detained in Veracruz by members of the then federal police. They were then held for 90 days by order of a judge. Suspected of links to organised crime, they were never told why they had been arrested.

The IACHR found the Mexican State responsible for the violation of the rights to personal integrity and freedom, to judicial guarantees and to judicial protection of the Tzompaxtle brothers and Gustavo Robles López.

In Mexico, in December 2022, an estimated 228,530 people were deprived of their liberty, 41% of them have been held in pre-trial detention. According to information from the Attorney General's Office, from 2008 to 2020, more than 8,000 people were subjected to the arraigo.

The IACHR has reiterated, as various Mexican organisations and international human rights bodies have done for several years, that the arraigo and unjustified preventive detention directly violate several human rights as well as due process.

In the past, several human rights bodies have condemned this practice: the then Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan. E. Méndez (2014) and the Committee against Torture (CAT) of the United Nations on its decision in the case of Ramiro Ramirez Martinez et al. v. Mexico of August 4, 2015, in which the victims were subjected to the figure of arraigo, arbitrarily detained and tortured under military custody.

In view of the IACHR ruling, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), Fair Trials and International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, call on the Mexican authorities to urgently implement the measures included in the judgment. The Mexican authorities must undertake the necessary legislative changes to eliminate arbitrariness and guarantee the rights to presumption of innocence and a fair trial.