COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
19 OF THE CONVENTION
Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture
153. The Committee considered the third periodic report of Mexico
(CAT/C/34/Add.2) at its 285th, 286th and 289th meetings, on 30 April
and 2 May 1997 (CAT/C/SR.285, 286/Add.1 and 289), and formulated the
following conclusions and recommendations.
154. Mexico submitted the initial and periodic reports called for
under article 19 of the Convention on time.
155. The Committee appreciates the timeliness with which the State
party has fulfilled this obligation, thereby helping the Committee
to carry out its functions under the Convention.
156. The third periodic report (CAT/C/34/Add.2), which was considered
by the Committee at its eighteenth session, complies with the guidelines
on the form and content of periodic reports which the Committee adopted
157. Several months before the third periodic report was submitted,
Mexico also submitted the supplement to the second periodic report
which the Committee had requested during its consideration of that
report in November 1992. However, the Committee did not consider the
additional report, both because of the time of submission and because
the information it contained was included in the most recent report.
158. The Committee appreciates the State party's efforts to improve
the legal status of torture victims and, in particular, the new legislative
provisions on restitution, compensation and rehabilitation for victims
of human rights violations, promulgated in January 1994, and the granting
of compulsory effect to the recommendations of the National Human
Rights Commission, which require the authorities to compensate torture
victims for the harm they have suffered.
159. The Committee recognizes the importance of projects and activities
for human rights education and training, which focus on a wide range
of public activities in which human rights violations may occur. The
report shows that considerable efforts have been made to strengthen
respect for human rights by public servants and society in general.
and difficulties impeding the application of the
provisions of the Convention
160. The fragility of the culture of respect for guarantees of the
rights of individuals and insufficient awareness on the part of the
various authorities of the importance of punishing torture harshly
and in accordance with the law, as recognized in the report with a
frankness which the Committee appreciates, are subjective factors
which probably make it more difficult fully to guarantee the fulfilment
of the obligations imposed on the State party by the Convention.
161. The restriction on the powers of the National Human Rights Commission,
whose recommendations the law specifically states to be "non-binding"
and of a non-compulsory nature for the authorities or public services
to which they are addressed, and the fact that the Commission is not
empowered to institute legal proceedings in order to conduct investigations
of the complaints it makes, are limitations which prevents it from
fully serving the basic purpose of protecting and promoting human
rights for which it was created. The Committee considers that broadening
its mandate in the sense indicated would contribute to better compliance
with the Convention by the State party.
162. The Committee has received abundant reliable information stating
that, despite the legal and administrative measures the Government
has taken to eradicate torture during the four-year period covered
by the report, torture continues to be systematically practised in
Mexico, particularly by the federal and local judicial police and,
recently, by members of the armed forces on the pretext of combating
subversives. The Committee notes with concern the wide gap between
the extensive legal and administrative framework established in order
to put an end to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment
and the actual situation as revealed in the information received.
163. In the Committee's opinion, the ineffectiveness of efforts to
put an end to the practice of torture is the result, inter alia,
of the continuing impunity of torturers and the fact that the authorities
responsible for the administration of justice continue to admit confessions
and statements made under torture as evidence during trials, despite
legal provisions explicitly declaring them inadmissible.
164. Even the State party's report includes statistics which clearly
demonstrate the impunity of torturers; by contrast with the large
number of complaints of torture received by the National Human Rights
Commission, which the report also mentions, only two convictions based
on the Federal Act to Prevent and Punish Torture and five for homicide
resulting from torture were handed down between June 1990 and May
165. In practice, the failure by the authority responsible for criminal
investigation to investigate reports of torture promptly and impartially,
as stipulated in articles 12 and 13 of the Convention, results in
the denial of the right of victims to take legal action to claim compensation
for the violation of their rights.
166. In order to discourage the practice of torture, the Committee
considers it necessary to implement effective procedures for monitoring
compliance with the duties and prohibitions of public officials and
bodies responsible for the administration of justice and law enforcement,
particularly the Office of the Attorney-General and its subsidiary
departments and the judiciary, in order to ensure the full implementation
of the many existing judicial remedies for the elimination of torture
and the criminal and administrative punishment of the persons responsible.
167. The Committee also considers the following measures to be necessary:
(a) The public human rights commissions should be given the necessary
jurisdiction to prosecute cases of serious human rights violations,
including complaints of torture;
(b) Training and dissemination programmes intended particularly for
law enforcement officials and health professionals should be strengthened
and should include issues relating to the prohibition of torture;
(c) Procedures to inform detainees of their rights should be developed.
Detainees should be immediately and directly informed of their rights
by public officials at the time of arrest and those rights should
be posted in all detention centres, prosecutors' offices and courthouses.
This information should include a clear, simple statement of the provisions
of the relevant legislation, particularly articles 16, 19 and 20 of
the Constitution and the relevant provisions of the Federal Act to
Prevent and Punish Torture.
168. The Committee recommends that the State party should consider
making the declarations under articles 21 and 22 of the Convention.
169. The Committee hopes that written answers to the unanswered questions
asked by its members during the consideration of the report will be
provided as soon as possible.
170. The Committee suggests that the State party should include relevant
information on the Federal District and the States in its next periodic
report. In particular, the Committee would like to receive information
on the following:
(a) Statistics on complaints of human rights violations in general
and, in particular, complaints of torture brought before the public
human rights commissions, and on the recommendations of those commissions
(b) Preliminary investigations of complaints of torture, cases where
criminal action has been taken and trials which have resulted in final
sentences, whether acquittals or convictions, and, in the latter case,
the penalties imposed;
(c) Cases in which the administrative responsibility of public officials
accused of torture has been established and the penalties imposed.