Press Release

IACHR Condemns Death of 49 Persons Deprived of Liberty in a Nuevo Leon Prison, Mexico

February 18, 2016

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the violence in Topo Chico prison, in Nuevo León, México, where 49 people lost their lives and 12 were wounded. The Inter-American Commission urges the State to investigate and to clarify the circumstances of the facts, and if appropriate, to identify and prosecute the people responsible for the actions.

According to publicly available information, on February 11, 2016, a riot took place in Topo Chico prison, in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo León. According to the governor of Nuevo León, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, the riot was due to clashes between members of the Los Zetas and cártel del Golfo. According to official statements, 49 people were killed, of whom 5 were calcinated. In addition, 12 people were wounded.

According to official statements, authorities regained control of the prison approximately 90 minutes after the riot had started. According to national media, the government response included the deployment of members of the Army, Navy and federal forces. In a press release, the National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico (CNDH) condemned the situation of violence, demanded an explanation of the facts, and decided to investigate the case.

Information received also indicates that after the incident, the Estate of  Nuevo León determined to transfer approximately 230 detainees from Topo Chico to other prisons. According to statements of family members of the inmates, they had not been informed which detainees would be transferred, and to where. In cases of transfer of detainees for safety measures, the State should inform the new location and the personal conditions of the detainees, without further delays.

In accordance to the declaration of the governor of Nuevo León, the acts of violence took place in an critically overpopulated prison. Accordingly, the IACHR urges the state of Mexico to adopt measures to reduce overpopulation and the use of preventive measures, through the adoption of alternative measures to imprisonment.

The Inter-American Commission also calls on the Mexican State to continue the investigation of the facts, and recalls that the State has the obligation to investigate on its own initiative and with due diligence all the deaths of the people who were under its responsibility. These investigations not only have to be oriented to establish the material responsible for the actions, but also the possible intellectual responsibility, and the  authorities who may be responsible due to their actions or omission.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 016/16