Press Release

IACHR Condemns Death of 28 Prison Inmates in Acapulco, Mexico

July 13, 2017

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Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the recent violence that took place in the state prison of Las Cruces, in the Mexican state of Guerrero. As a result of these acts, 28 people lost their lives and at least 3 were injured. The IACHR urges the State to continue its investigation with due diligence, identify those responsible for what happened, and determine the appropriate punishment.

According to publicly available information, at approximately 4 a.m. on July 6, 2017, a riot broke out at the Las Cruces Center for Social Reintegration, in Acapulco, Guerrero, due to the ongoing clash between rival groups inside the prison. The riot reportedly started in the “maximum security” section of the facility, which houses inmates charged with belonging to criminal organizations. According to official reports, 28 inmates died in the confrontation and 3 were injured. Images published in the media showed that at least 5 individuals had been decapitated.

The Attorney General’s Office for the state of Guerrero reported that as soon as the governor learned of the outbreak of violence, he instructed the Police Department and the state Attorney General’s Office to carry out an operation to regain control of the prison. Hours later, the respective investigations were said to be underway.

The Inter-American Commission is well-aware that a situation of prison violence prevails in the Mexican State. In this regard, the IACHR has expressed its concern regarding the repetition of acts that reflect an absence of effective security measures to safeguard the rights to life and humane treatment of persons deprived of liberty. The Commission spoke out about this recently in its press releases 16/16 of February 18, 2016, and 86/16 of June 23, 2016, in which it condemned the deaths of 49 persons deprived of liberty and of 3 inmates, respectively, as a result of riots that began with clashes between members of rival organizations.

Moreover, in its report The Human Rights Situation in Mexico, the IACHR drew attention to the insecurity and conditions that allow or foster acts of violence among inmates as common structural patterns that characterize the prison problem. The IACHR notes that, as guarantors of the fundamental rights of persons deprived of liberty, States 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 drugs and by controlling the activity of criminal organizations in prisons.

The Commission emphasizes that States have the obligation to investigate, on their own initiative and with due diligence, all deaths of individuals in their custody. These investigations should seek to establish not only the perpetrators of the acts but also the likely masterminds as well as any authorities who, by commission or omission, may be responsible. The State has informed the IACHR that an investigation is underway, and the Commission will follow up on it.

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 defense of 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. 097/17