IACHR

Press Release

IACHR Condemns Death of at least 17 Prison Inmates in Cadereyta, Mexico

October 18, 2017

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9000
mrivero@oas.org

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the recent acts of violence that took place in the state prison in Cadereyta, in Nuevo León, Mexico. At least 17 people lost their lives in these events, and at least 40 others were injured. The IACHR urges the State to carry out the respective investigation, identify those responsible, and establish the appropriate punishment.

According to information made public by the state government of Nuevo León, on October 9 a group of 40 inmates at the Cadereyta Center for Social Reintegration started a riot, which was brought under control that same night. The next day, 150 inmates reportedly started a protest against prison management and set various objects on fire. According to state authorities, a group of inmates took three guards hostage and took them to the roof of the prison.

According to publicly available information, at least 17 inmates lost their lives because of these acts of violence, and a still undetermined number of people were injured, including two police officers. Official information indicates that most of the prisoners who lost their lives were killed in an internal fight between the criminal groups housed at the prison. In addition, according to statements made by the state security spokesman, at least two inmates died from gunshots fired by agents of civilian security forces. The spokesman stated that the decision had been made to use lethal force to rescue the guards, because it had been learned that the inmates intended to throw them off the roof.

The IACHR reminds the State that security forces may resort to the use of lethal weapons only when it is strictly unavoidable to protect a life and when less extreme measures turn out to be ineffective. Taking into consideration that government authorities have said that autopsies are being performed to determine the cause of each of the deaths, the IACHR reiterates that the Mexican State has the obligation to carry out an adequate control and verification of the legality of use of force. Once a State knows that the use of firearms by security forces has resulted in death, it should initiate an investigation of its own accord, one that is rigorous, impartial, effective, and open to public scrutiny.

The IACHR has expressed its concern over the recurrence of events that reflect the absence of effective security measures to protect the rights to life and humane treatment of persons deprived of liberty. Since June 2016, the IACHR has spoken out three times to condemn violent acts in which 80 prisoners lost their lives in Mexico because of riots that began with clashes between members of rival groups (press releases 97/17, 16/16, and 86/16).

In its report The Human Rights Situation in Mexico, the IACHR highlighted the situation of insecurity, as well as the conditions that allow or cause acts of violence between inmates, as common structural patterns that characterize the prison problem. As guarantors of the fundamental rights of persons deprived of liberty, State have a legal duty to take concrete steps to guarantee prisoners the right to life and humane treatment; this includes ensuring internal security in prison facilities by effectively preventing the entry of weapons and by controlling the activity of criminal organizations in prisons.

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 and to defend 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. 163/17