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Human Rights Commission headquarters in Mexico City. Human Rights Commission headquarters in Mexico City.

Marines detained and tortured 17 people, rights commission charges

Victims were also denied access to justice by Attorney General's office

The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) alleges that navy marines arbitrarily detained and tortured 17 people in a dozen cases over a five-year period.

The commission issued recommendations yesterday to two federal authorities in relation to the cases.

It said in a statement that between 2013 and 2017 it received complaints from victims and family members relating to 12 cases in which 32 members of the navy perpetrated the illegal acts on 13 men and four women.

“. . . 11 of these people also suffered sexual violence, while the violating acts consisted of the tying of hands and/or feet, beatings, blindfolding, psychological aggression, electric shocks, blows with a board . . . and attempted suffocation,” the statement said.

The detentions and torture allegedly occurred in the states of Coahuila, Nuevo León, Sinaloa, Veracruz and Zacatecas.

The victims were subsequently handed over to the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR), the CNDH said.

The commission recommended that the Secretariat of the Navy (Semar) and the PGR both conduct investigations into the allegations.

“. . . the recommendation is directed, first of all, at Semar because the incidents are related to a constant practice in which elements of the navy detain persons alleging supposed crimes or anonymous reports that result in acts that violate human rights,” the statement said.

Victims have been denied access to justice by 17 PGR officials who “delayed or failed to initiate a serious, impartial and effective investigation into the probable crime of torture;” the CNDH said.

Preliminary investigations into five of the 12 cases have been initiated but it wasn’t until one to three years later that they began.

The CNDH also recommended that Semar pay compensation to the 17 victims and add them to the National Registry of Victims as well as fully cooperate with investigations.

In addition, all marines should be equipped with image and sound recording devices in all operations and the secretariat should implement policies that reduce the risks of human rights violations occurring during the carrying out of public security tasks, the statement said.

The CNDH recommended that the PGR continue with the five preliminary investigations and investigate the officials who delayed or failed to open files into the incidents.

It’s not the first time this year that the navy has been accused of illegal conduct.

Relatives of missing persons allege that the navy was involved in the disappearance of as many as 36 people in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, between February and May.

Last month, a naval base in the northern border city opened its doors to federal authorities and families of missing persons but relatives of the missing called the event a mockery.

In July, the PGR said that it had turned the focus of its investigation on to the Zetas drug cartel. 

Source: El Universal (sp)

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