Mexico "Allows Torture of Drug Suspects"

By McCarton Ackerman 10/11/12

Amnesty International reports a dramatic increase in abuse and torture by Mexican authorities fighting the drug war.

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All's fair in drugs and war? Photo via

Amnesty International claims that Mexican police and military, under relentless pressure to take down the country's drug cartels, have increasingly turned to torture and abuse in recent years—and that the government is turning a blind eye. The human rights organization's latest report states that Mexico's National Human Rights Commission received 1,661 complaints of torture and abuse by police and military last year, up from 564 complaints in 2008. Many more incidents are thought to have gone undocumented, with many victims too afraid to come forward. President Felipe Calderon's administration has given torturers "almost total impunity," the report claims, and continues to allow coerced confessions to be used as evidence in court. While Calderon acknowledges that abuses have occurred in the past, he claims his government has sought to prosecute torturers. Amnesty's proposal for Mexico calls for disallowing evidence obtained through torture in criminal proceedings; a ban on the military carrying out police functions; and an end to the practice known as "arraigo"—in which those suspected of serious crimes can be detained for up to 80 days without charge. But some citizens seem to welcome the abuse of alleged drug suspects. Victor Clark Alfaro, director of the Binational Center for Human Rights in Tijuana, claims that when people see suspects on TV with visible bruises from police beatings, their response is often, "How great that they beat them up. They deserved it."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.