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November 6, 2002

Report cites Attorney General's Office and Army as lead players in arbitrary detentions

From:, Mexico
Nov. 6, 2002

The Attorney General's Office and armed forces are the primary violators of individual rights in Mexico, according to a report on arbitrary detentions by a leading human rights organization.

Presented to a visiting United Nation's working group on arbitrary arrests, the report by the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center said the institutions were major perpetrators of physical and psychological violence against detainees, frequently denying just treatment.

"Not only is the right to freedom and legal rights violated , but in general it is accompanied by other serious human rights violations such as torture, disappearance and even death," the report stated.

The report, which coincides with information published by the National Human Rights Commission (CND), described detentions as unexpected and often "very violent." Relatives of the detainee and witnesses are frequently mistreated.

"Once a detention is carried out, the victim is searched thoroughly and, in some cases, their belongings are stolen," the report said. "When detained, the victim is beaten and threatened. He is often handcuffed and has his eyes covered. He is tortured to make him sign confessions and hand over information."

In the extensive document, the Pro Juarez Center highlighted recurring involvement of the federal police in arbitrary detentions, particularly in relation to organized and common crime as well as counter-insurgency and political violence.

The Pro Juárez Center outlined 35 cases of arbitrary detentions in the country, 22 under the government of President Vicente Fox.

Cases included a police sting operation in the Las Huertas community of Oaxaca following the massacre of 26 campesinos in Agua Fria. The state government blamed Las Huertas inhabitants for the massacre and ordered their arrests. According to Pro Juarez, police arrived in the village without arrest or search warrants. "They searched houses, robbing money and possessions, and beat various people, including a deaf man," the report said.

The center put the State of Guerrero Judicial Police as second on the list of human rights violators, and municipal police third.

--Claudia Boyd-Barrett

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