Judicial authorities must consider evidence of torture (sólo Inglés)
9 December 2011
Index AI: AMR 41/083/2011
Judicial authorities must consider evidence of torture
Amnesty International is concerned that in Mexico, confessions obtained through torture continue to be accepted as evidence in criminal trials and that evidence of torture is excluded and ignored by the public prosecutor and some judges. The lack of will to investigate and duly clarify torture allegations seriously threatens the integrity of criminal trials.
International human rights norms are clear: in a fair trial, any evidence, including confessions by the defendant, which has been obtained through torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, must not be admitted as evidence in any proceeding except a trial against the person accused of perpetrating the torture.
According to information received this week, in the amparo legal defense action filed by Israel Arzate Meléndez to challenge his arraignment for homicide, the Ninth District Judge of Chihuahua State refused to admit evidence that the defendant was tortured into giving a confession. Based on this confession, Israel Arzate was accused of killing 15 people in Villas de Salvárcar, Ciudad Juárez in 2010. His lawyers were informed on Tuesday 6 December of the refusal to admit the evidence gathered by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) that demonstrates that Israel Arzate confessed under severe torture.
The evidence of the torture suffered by Israel Arzate, documented in Recommendation 49/2011 of the CNDH, has been ignored since the beginning of his detention by agents of the public prosecutor’s office and of the Chihuahua state judicial system. The refusal to admit evidence of torture calls into question the judicial authorities’ commitment to guarantee a fair trial for the accused, ensure that any judicial decision is well-founded, and guarantee that the people tried for crimes are the real perpetrators. International human rights treaties have constitutional hierarchy in Mexico since July of this year; all Mexican authorities have the duty to comply with them.
Amnesty International also calls on the Federal Attorney General’s Office to comply with its obligation to carry out a timely, complete, and impartial investigation of the torture denounced formally by Israel Arzate in a complaint presented on November 16, 2011 and supported by the CNDH Recommendation.
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