Press Release

IACHR Concerned over Violent Deaths in Mexican Prison

July 29, 2011

Washington D.C., - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) laments the violent deaths of 17 inmates at the Center for Social Re-adaptation for Adults (CERESO) in Ciudad Juárez, in the state of Chihuahua, and urgently calls on the State of Mexico to take any necessary steps to ensure that such events do not happen again.

According to widely disseminated in news reports, on the night of Monday, July 25, 2011, an armed confrontation took place among inmates at the CERESO facility, leaving 17 dead, including a woman, and 20 wounded. According to the authorities, the fights reportedly broke out as a result of disputes among members of rival criminal organizations.

The IACHR expresses its concern over these events and emphasizes that the State, as guarantor of the rights of persons deprived of liberty, has the obligation to adopt concrete measures to guarantee internal security in correctional institutions. These measures include effectively preventing weapons and drugs from entering prisons, and controlling the activity of criminal organizations present in the facilities.

The IACHR notes with concern that, according to the information it has received, the fight resulted in the death of a woman prisoner who was inexplicably in the men's area of the facility. On this point, the IACHR emphasizes that under international human rights law, States have the obligation to guarantee an effective separation of men and women in incarceration facilities. This implies, among other things, that the State must act with due diligence to prevent interaction between men and women in prison facilities with a mixed population of inmates.

The IACHR once again calls urgently on the Mexican authorities to adopt the appropriate measures, including structural reforms, designed to prevent outbreaks of violence in prison.

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 matter. 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. 79/11