30th Human Rights Council Session
ITEM 3 – Clustered ID with the Working Group on arbitrary detention
Joint statement by the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH), World Organization against Torture (OMCT) and the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT)
The Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, the World Organization against Torture and the Association for the Prevention of Torture, welcome the Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and share its concerns regarding forms of detention to investigate, including “arraigo”, or other that diminish a person’s ability to challenge his or her detention. We agree that these forms of detention affect the presumption of innocence and overwhelm the justice system.
In Mexico, while there have been improvements in the criminal justice system as a result of a Constitutional amendment in 2008, such as the transition to a adversarial criminal justice system, this amendment also introduced an abusive and undemocratic practice: the arraigo.
Arraigo is a federal precautionary measure to deprive of liberty those persons suspected to be part of organized crime. It is supposed to be used as a means of investigating criminal suspects, but in practice, it is used to give more time for the authorities, before bringing formal charges before a judge. Arraigo is currently used for a period up to 40 days, but can be extended to 80 days.
This measure is a form of arbitrary detention clearly contrary to Mexican human rights’ obligations and violates, among others, the rights of personal freedom, legality, presumption of innocence, due process and judicial review. Moreover, the arraigo places detainees in a situation of heightened vulnerability and in an increased risk of being subject to torture or other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Preventive detention in Mexico has therefore become the systematic technique, most commonly used in criminal investigations in Mexico. From 2009 – 2014 a total of 14,523 requests for arraigo were issued from the Attorney General’s Office. From the 8,595 persons detained under arraigo in the period from 2008 – 2011, only the 3.2 percent of them were sentenced. 7,943 detentions were for drug-related crimes. The high numbers of people detained under arraigo at the federal level lead us to conclude that there has been an abuse of this practice at the detriment of the rights of the persons detained.
We therefore call on the members of the Council and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, to urge the Mexican State to immediately eliminate arraigo from law and practice, as recommended by numerous UN human rights mechanisms.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.