Sunday, December 5

Mexican prisons: Mexico will release prisoners tortured, elderly, sick or without a sentence for more than 10 years for minor crimes


A custodian of the Penitentiary Force in the facilities of a recruitment center in Monterrey, Mexico.
A custodian of the Penitentiary Force in the facilities of a recruitment center in Monterrey, Mexico.Julio Cesar Aguilar

The Ministry of the Interior is preparing a decree to adjust prison policy and reduce the most vulnerable population in Mexican prisons. The president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has instructed that a legal document be drawn up to allow the release of tortured prisoners, those over 75, chronically ill over 65 or who have been without a sentence for more than 10 years for minor offenses. . “It is important to take into account that there are many detainees who do not have a sentence and that it is not only for crimes under federal jurisdiction, it is also common jurisdiction and it is the majority,” the president stressed this Thursday at a press conference. The document will be prepared next week and will mainly benefit the almost 95,000 inmates in Mexico’s prisons without sentencing, 43% of the prison population.

The draft decree of the Ministry of the Interior intends that those affected by the delays in the justice system shorten their stay in prison. Currently, almost half of the inmates in Mexican prisons do not have a final sentence and must wait behind bars for their trial despite being presumed innocent. This measure allows the imprisonment of people who have not had a trial due to the potential risk to society represented by the crime they are accused of. 43% of the prisoners in Mexico are in preventive detention, far ahead of the United States, which only has 24% or the European Union, which has 25% in these conditions.

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When the decree enters into force, the most vulnerable prison population will also decrease considerably. “All the prison population that is over 75 years old may request that they be released from prison and remain at home in house arrest,” informed the Secretary of the Interior, Olga Sánchez Cordero. Those who have a chronic or degenerative disease and are over 65 years of age may also avail themselves of this right.

Prisoners who allege torture and that can be verified through the Istanbul Protocol expert opinion may also benefit from release, regardless of whether they are accused of any crime. “What we want to make clear is that as a state policy, we do not allow torture,” declared the president, who acknowledges that it is a controversial measure. Details of the decree have not yet been released.

The Undersecretary for Human Rights, Population and Migration, Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez, has put a face to this problem in Mexico with the examples of various media cases. The example of Israel Vallarta is the most famous. With 16 years in prison without a sentence and with evidence of torture in his detention, the authorities have asked that his case be reviewed and a sentence be issued so as not to delay his stay in prison. The case of Brenda Quevedo Cruz, detained since 2009, who has claimed to have been tortured on two occasions and whose process is prolonged due to obstacles in bureaucratic resolutions. And there is also the case of María Isabel San Agustín, with a 65-year sentence for kidnapping despite having been verified with the Istanbul protocol that she was tortured during her trial. “Anyone, whoever they are, and who has been subjected to torture, must be immediately released and the torturers must be punished,” Encinas stressed.

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