Press Release

IACHR Deplores Violent Deaths in Mexican Prison

February 22, 2012

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the violent death of 44 inmates at the state prison of Apodaca, in the State of Nuevo León, México. The IACHR urges the State of Mexico to implement the necessary measures to prevent the repetition of similar incidents, and to investigate and sanction the perpetrators.

According to Government authorities, on February 20, 2012, 44 prisoners at the State Prison of Apodaca were bludgeoned, beaten and stabbed to death by other inmates, who are members of a rival gang, during a riot in which 30 other prisoners escaped. The information available indicates that the prisoners killed, who were locked up in the Cellblock D, were attacked by inmates of another cellblock.

 Moreover, according to information previously received by the IACHR, on January 4, 2012 there was another riot in the state prison of Altamira (Centro de Ejecución de Sanciones), in the state of Tamaulipas, in which more that 30 inmates were killed and another 13 wounded by sharp weapons. This fighting started when prisoners from Cellblock 11 broke into Cellblock 12 of that penitentiary.

The IACHR reiterates that States, as guarantors of the rights of the persons deprived of liberty, must adopt all necessary measures to protect the life and personal integrity of the inmates. States have the obligation to investigate, on its own initiative and with due diligence, all deaths of persons under its custody. These investigations must not only aim to establish the material perpetrators of the crimes, but also the possible intellectual authors, and any degree of responsibility that the authorities might have, either by action or omission.

Likewise, the States have the fundamental obligation to ensure the control and internal security of prisons, and must in no way abandon this inherent duty. Proper control by the authorities of internal order inside prisons is an essential assumption in order to guarantee the human rights of persons deprived of liberty.

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 a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence. 

No. 21/12