At least 10 thousand people deprived of their liberty in Mexico have suffered sexual assault at the hands of Mexican authorities, either at the moment of their arrest, during transit to the Public Prosecutor’s Office , or during their stay in the premises. The authorities that torture the most while arresting suspects are the Mexican Navy, the army, and Federal Police (PF) .

Between eight and nine out of 10 people arrested by said branches are subject to torture or mistreatment. Law enforcement agents often trump up charges, beat up, choke, electrocute, rape, and inflict second-degree burns upon suspects, among other infamies.

A statistical research on torture conducted by the World Justice Project , based on the 2016 National Survey for Population Deprived of their Liberty (ENPOL) , details this and other issues surrounding suspects detention in Mexico. The survey took into account people sentenced or processed who had been arrested between 2006 and 2016. Roberto Hernández , lawyer and coordinator of a famous documentary called “Presunto Culpable” was behind the project.

Out of all people who were arrested, those accused of kidnapping were the most frequent victims of torture and mistreatment on the part of Mexican authorities. It was estimated that 90% of suspects accused and/or sentenced for extortion, kidnapping, and illegal arms carrying were tortured or mistreated.

Three out of four people who reported being sexually assaulted during arrest or transit to the Prosecutor’s office were women. Out of all 9,870 women surveyed in the report, 1,460 (15%) reported being raped.

Jan Jarab, Mexico’s representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

, claimed that there is a double obstacle in the fight against sexual torture.

“Impunity is the main obstacle in most torture cases. Mexican authorities often fail to admit these aggressions and tend to protect the aggressors out of some misplaced solidarity in government institutions, though there is also gender discrimination. The proportions of gender violence in Mexico are tremendous, and so is the acceptance of gender violence as such. People tend to protect and make excuses for the perpetrators of these crimes and this is a big part of the problem,” he stated.


requested authorities to provide information concerning sexual torture and abuse of authority via Mexico’s transparency law in order to put the study into context.

The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) registered 15 complaints, out of which 11 concluded with recommendations for the past two government administrations.

Ever since it was created in 2014, the Executive Commission for Victims Assistance (CEAV) has reported three direct victims (two males and one female) who suffered sexual violence, and eight indirect victims, including family members and close friends. The Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) was singled out as responsible for each of the aggressions.

The Federal Police has only acknowledged two cases occurred in 2016, while the Special Prosecutor for Human Trafficking and Violent Crimes against Women (FEVIMTRA) reported 14 torture cases against women; three in 2011 and 11 in 2019.

The normalization of violence

On June 30, the National Guard will join in police work conducted by the Navy, the Army, and Federal Police, three of the government security branches allegedly responsible for most torture cases.

According to Madeleine Penman, an investigator from Amnesty International in Mexico , torture is common practice among the country’s forces of law.

“A lot has been said about the course that the National Guard might take, but public forces have been receiving trainings in human rights for a long time, with little to no results. If there are no consequences or punishments for violence and abuse of power, there will be no change,” she expressed.

Jan Jarab suggested that police torture and aggression in Mexico is born of a “ perverse kind of logic consisting of getting results at any cost, even if it implies trumping up charges and torturing suspects.”


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