IACHR Brings Mexico Case before the IA Court

May 20, 2021

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Washington, D.C. — On October 6, 2021, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court) over the case of Daniel García Rodríguez and Reyes Alpizar Ortíz, concerning Mexico. The case concerns acts of torture and violations of due process and personal liberty against Daniel García Rodríguez and Reyes Alpízar Ortíz, who were held in pretrial detention for more than 17 years.

In its Merits Report, the IACHR observed that the victims were detained without a prior court order and without complying with the conditions established in the Criminal Code. In response, it concluded that Daniel García Rodríguez and Reyes Alpízar Ortíz were only formally informed of the reasons for their detention and the charges brought against them when they were brought before a judge 45 and 34 days, respectively, after being deprived of their freedom, during which they were detained under arraigo.

The IACHR observed that at the time of the events, there were provisions for arraigo in the legislation of the State of Mexico, which granted the Public Prosecutor's Office the power to detain individuals within the scope of an investigation for a maximum of 60 days before formally charging them with any crime. In this case, it was established that the use of arraigo was a punitive rather than a precautionary measure and therefore constituted an arbitrary deprivation of freedom that violated the principle of presumption of innocence. Likewise, it concluded that the 17 years of pretrial detention that followed the arraigo was arbitrary and punitive as it constituted an advance punishment while leaving the victims without the possibility of an appeal to analyze whether this was reasonable in accordance with procedural purposes.

Furthermore, in response to the allegations of torture, the IACHR determined that the State did not provide a satisfactory explanation to refute these or the evidence that they had occurred. Given this, and taking into account the fact that the purpose of these acts was to break the victims psychologically and force them to incriminate themselves or to link other individuals to criminal acts, the IACHR deemed that the victims were indeed subjected to torture. Furthermore, given that the evidence obtained from them under torture was not excluded until it had been duly investigated and disproved, it concluded that the State had violated the rule of exclusion of evidence obtained under duress.

The IACHR also concluded that the right to defense was violated given that during the criminal proceedings, the victims were not able to present essential exonerating evidence. Furthermore, the judge did not take measures to ensure that the information needed to discover the truth was submitted or that the necessary witnesses appeared. Furthermore, the IACHR established that during the investigation and criminal proceedings, the victims were presented by the Public Prosecutor's Office as guilty despite not having received a final sentence, which violated the principle of presumption of innocence. Finally, the IACHR deemed that the State did not comply with its obligation to try the victims within a reasonable period.

Based on these considerations, the IACHR concluded that the Mexican State is internationally responsible for the violation of the rights to personal liberty, personal integrity, a fair trial, and judicial protection as established in articles 5.1, 5.2, 7. 1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, and 25 of the American Convention, in relation to the obligations set forth in articles 1.1 and 2 regarding the application of the concept of arraigo and pretrial detention, as described in the report. Likewise, it found that the State violated articles 1, 6, and 8 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture to the detriment of Daniel García Rodríguez and Reyes Alpizar Ortiz.

In its merits report, the IACHR made the following recommendations to the State of Mexico:

  1. Provide comprehensive material and moral redress for the human rights violations set out in the report. The State must take measures to provide economic compensation and redress and any physical and mental healthcare measures needed to help the victims recover. Any such measures should be agreed upon with them.
  2. Conclude the criminal proceedings against the victims as soon as possible, in accordance with the standards of due process guaranteed by the American Convention.
  3. Conduct a serious, diligent, effective investigation within a reasonable period to clarify the acts of torture against the victims, identify those responsible for these, and impose the corresponding sanctions on them. This investigation must comply with the parameters of due diligence established in the inter-American standards on this matter, including those set out in the Istanbul Protocol.
  4. Adapt the country's legal system to permanently eliminate the concept of arraigo, including the constitutional and legal norms that uphold this. While this is being implemented, ensure that all judicial operators who are called upon to apply the concept of arraigo cease to do so by invoking conventionality control, in light of the corresponding inter-American standards.
  5. Provide appropriate training for officials working at the Office of the Deputy Attorney General of Tlalnepantla concerning the absolute prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment during investigations of all crimes, including those that relate to organized crime, and implement a simple, easily accessible system for reporting any such acts.

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

No. 130/21