A presidential decree is set to release thousands of prisoners from Mexican jails including those aged 75 and over who didn’t commit a serious crime and victims of torture.
President López Obrador said Thursday he would sign the decree next week ordering the release of federal prisoners who fall into four categories.
They are prisoners accused of non-serious crimes who have been incarcerated for more than 10 years without a sentence; prisoners who were victims of torture regardless of the crime of which they are accused; inmates aged 65 and over with chronic illnesses who didn’t commit a serious crime such as murder; and prisoners aged 75 and over who didn’t commit a serious crime.
The decree to free such prisoners will be drawn up by the Interior Ministry and take effect by September 15, López Obrador told his regular news conference.
Interior Minister Olga Sánchez said there are more than 94,000 people in prison who haven’t received a sentence. Of that number, more than 12,000 are incarcerated in federal prisons.
López Obrador said he hoped state authorities would consider releasing prisoners in the same categories from penitentiaries they operate.
He said the Ministry of Health will carry out assessments of prisoners aged over 65 to determine if they are suffering from a chronic disease.
Prisoners’ claims of torture will be assessed in accordance with the United Nations Istanbul Protocol on the effective investigation and documentation of torture.
The UN said in 2018 that many of the suspects accused of involvement in the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero in 2014 were tortured. Human rights organizations have denounced Mexico for using torture as a means to obtain confessions from criminal suspects.
The federal Congress passed an amnesty law early last year that allowed the release of some prisoners. Although impunity rates are very high in Mexico, some of its prisons are severely overcrowded, a problem that could be alleviated somewhat by the upcoming mass release.