Press Release

IACHR condemns prison violence in Nuevo León, México

June 23, 2016

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Washington, D.C.— The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has condemned the acts violence that occurred at the Topo Chico prison in Nuevo León state, Mexico, on June 1, 2016, leaving three inmates dead and 19 injured. The Inter-American Commission calls on the state to take the necessary steps to prevent the repetition of those acts. In addition, the IACHR urges the State to continue with the investigation that has been launched in order to establish the circumstances of the facts, identify the perpetrators, and apply the appropriate sanctions.

According to published reports, at about 9:00 p.m. on June 1, 2016, a fight broke out between rival gangs inside Rondín Clinic 1 at the Topo Chico penitentiary, allegedly stemming from disputes over control of turf inside the prison. According to official reports, three prisoners were killed and 19 were injured, five seriously, and were taken to the University Hospital; and another nine inmates who were injured were treated at the prison’s health facility. According to statements by the Nuevo Leon state Attorney General, state prosecutors launched criminal proceedings against eleven inmates allegedly involved in the dispute. In addition, according to information available to the Commission, 49 inmates were transferred to other federal prisons, and the prison authorities will take steps to establish new boundaries for the areas of the prison.

The Inter-American Commission notes that this situation is unfolding less than four months after the February 11, 2016 acts of violence that claimed the lives of 49 inmates at the same prison. The Commission issued a statement on that matter in its press release No. 16/16 dated February 18, 2016, condemning the killing of 49 prisoners in a riot started by the clash between Los Zetas members and Golfo cartel members at the same prison facility. The IACHR is therefore concerned that the recurrence of the incidents reflects an absence of effective security measures to guarantee individuals who are incarcerated their right to life and to personal safety and security.

Likewise, in its Report on the Human Rights Situation in Mexico, the Commission underscored the grave situation in prisons in the country’s northern states, such as Nuevo León, characterized by a strong presence of organized crime, which has produced complex situations with inmates themselves taking absolute control of security, without any supervision from the relevant authorities. The IACHR therefore wishes to stress that, as guarantors of the fundamental rights of detained persons, states have a legal duty to take concrete action to guarantee prisoners the right to life and to personal safety and security; and should also ensure internal security in prison facilities by effectively preventing weapons and drugs from entering and by controlling the activity of criminal organizations in prisons.

The Commission wishes to reiterate that states have an obligation to investigate, ex-officio and with due diligence, all deaths of individuals in their custody. Not only should these investigations seek to establish those who carried out the acts but also the likely masterminds as well as the authorities who, by commission or omission, might be responsible. The State has informed the IACHR that an investigation is ongoing, and the Commission will follow up on it.

A principal, autonomous body of the 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. 086/16