Violence, Insecurity
and Disappearances
in Mexico

Situation of Human Rights in Mexico

During the on-site visit to Mexico the Commission confirmed the serious human rights crisis that exists in that country.

This crisis is characterized by a situation of extreme insecurity and violence; serious human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and torture.

IACHR Publishes Report:
"Situation of Human Rights in Mexico"

The report analyzes, in particular, forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and torture, as well as the situation of citizen insecurity, lack of access to justice and impunity, and the situation of journalists, human rights defenders and other groups especially affected by the context of violence in Mexico.

It also provides recommendations with the aim of assisting the Mexican State in strengthening its efforts to protect and guarantee human rights in the country, in accordance with the international human rights obligations assumed voluntarily by the State.

Cover the IACHR Report, Situation of Human Rights in Mexico

Photo credit: Elenats.93

Advances in Human Rights Policies in Mexico

The IACHR values the constitutional and legislative  reforms introduced since 2011 in terms of human rights.

The constitutional reforms elevated to constitutional level the human rights contained in international treaties of which Mexico is a party, and made the “amparo” a judicial tool to seek redress for violations of those rights.

The report acknowledges the protocols approved to investigate cases of torture and forced disappearance, as well as the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice, which limits military jurisdiction in cases in which members of the armed forces commit human rights violations against civilians.

Mexico Hearing: Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty and the Privatization of the Prison System in Mexico. 157 Perio of Sessions.

Photo credit: Daniel Cima for the IACHR

Main Factors Behind the Violence in Mexico

State Actors

Various authorities, such as the federal, state, and municipal police, members of the armed forces, and even public prosecutor’s offices have been tied to alleged serious human rights violations that have gone unpunished. It has been reported practices violating human rights, like forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, claims of torture perpetrated by federal and state officials and the armed forces, among others.

Organized Crime

Corruption and impunity have enabled criminal organizations to develop and establish parallel power structures. In many cases, criminal groups act in apparent direct collusion with State authorities, or at least with their acquiescence. Corruption allows organized crime to act with high levels of impunity.

Use of Force by Non-State Actors

The surge of groups of civilians called “self-defense groups” that have taken up arms, the proliferation of private security forces and the privatization of prisions exacerbate the violence in Mexico.

Poverty and Social Exclusion

In Mexico, the areas of the country with the highest rates of violence are also the areas with the highest rates of poverty, inequality, and marginalization. Poverty tends to bean obstacle to access to justice because that a lack of financial resources is one of the reasons many people do not report crimes committed against them.11,400,000 million of which live in extreme55,300,000 Mexicans live in poverty, that is almost half of Mexico's population (46.2%) lives in poverty.

Trafficking of Persons, Drugs and Arms

Organized criminal groups handle illegal trafficking of drugs, arms, and immigrants, they operate kidnapping and extortion networks and forced recruitment, this generates enormous sums of money for corrupting State officials and authorities.


When violent crimes end up in impunity this leads to more violence, as the perpetrators do not face the consequences of their actions, creating a spiral of impunity.

Photo credit: Marcos Guevara Rivera

“We go out in a borrowed car and we go to the mountain and wherever the ground sinks a little, that could be a sign that someone is buried there. We stick this rod in and smell it and if it smells putrid, we know a body is there.”

Testimony of a family member of a missing person to the IACHR on a piece of land where 18 bodies were found outside Iguala.

Disappearances and Forced Disappearances

According to the National Registry of Disappeared or Missing Persons, the number of “unlocatable” persons in México as of September 30, 2015, was 26.798.


There is a disproportionate effect that disappearances and forced disappearances have on children and adolescents. According to the National Registry of Disappeared or Missing Persons children and adolescents represents 30% of the total number of disappearances.

Fear to Report

The IACHR noted in countless testimonies of people who have not reported these violations to the authorities for fear of reprisals, leading to a serious problem of underreporting in official figures.

Family Search

The institutional inability to address this problem is why the families themselves are carrying out their own searches for unmarked mass graves in Iguala, in search of their missing family members.
There are currently more than 400 families in Iguala that meet and conduct these searches for unmarked graves, since 2007. Since November 2014, 106 bodies have been found. To date, only 7 have been officially.


The testimonies heard reveal deep distrust of state and local authorities, apathy on the part of the State, negligence, and a lack of will to address their situation.

Without Assistance for Victims

Many victims are not assisted or are not assisted adequately when they try to file a complaint. In extreme cases, family members face so many obstacles and have so much distrust that they prefer not to report the crime or not to follow up with the authorities.

Photo credit: Daniel Cima for the IACHR

“They tell me, don’t look because I’m going to cut your tongue out. Don’t look because your three other children are going to end up lying at the door of your house and that will be on your conscience. They leave us this void, this absence, and our hearts frozen because we can’t even cry.”

Testimony from a mother in Mexico City.

Extrajudicial Executions

 Regarding homicides, according to information provided by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, 102,696 intentional homicides were committed between December 2006 and November 2012.

The National Defense Ministry reported that between 2007 and 2012, during alleged acts of “aggression against military personnel,” 158 members of the military and 2,959 “alleged civilian attackers” died. They indicated that for every member of the military killed, 18.7 civilians died.

In Mexico, members of the military may use force to prevent the imminent commission of a crime and to protect against an attack. Along these lines, the IACHR has been informed that the armed forces frequently attempt to tamper with crime scenes to make it appear that any incident involving civilians was the result of a confrontation.

There are no federal laws in Mexico that speak specifically to the use of public force. Despite the fact that the armed forces' involvement in citizen-security undertakings should be temporary and strictly exceptional in nature, it would seem that the 2014 Joint Armed Forces Manual on the Use of Force normalizes the presence of the military in such tasks.


The prevalence of the practice of torture is also alarming in Mexico.

The Mexican State reported that as of April 2015, the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) had 2,420 pending investigations for torture.There are only 15 federal convictions for this crime.

The types of torture consist of a combination of punches, kicks with boots, and beatings with sticks and the butts of weapons to different parts of the body; insults, threats, and humiliation; electric shocks to the genitals; dry asphyxiation and waterboarding; and even forced nudity and sexual torture.

Lack of Codification

It is of concern that Mexican legislation’s lacks of alignment with international standards in the criminalization of torture. The Federal Law to Prevent and Punish Torture does not refer to torture committed with discriminatory purposes or "with any other purpose", and when an individual commits the crime, the law requires that the tortured person be in detention.

Investigation and Punishment

Allegations of torture and ill treatment usually go unpunished, and the State’s willingness to investigate and punish the authorities responsible for committing these acts is not apparent. This is clearly reflected in the mismatch between the number of investigations and (mainly) the sentences in relation to the widespread situation faced by the Mexican state.

Fear to Report

Ahough the number of reported cases of torture and ill treatment is a concern, it does not reflect the real problems. This is mainly due to the lack of complaints for fear of reprisals or mistrust of the authorities, to the tendency to classify these acts as less serious offenses, and to the difficulty in obtaining data principally due to the absence of a national registry of cases of torture.

Photo credit: IACHR Press

Specific Situations of Concern

The events that transpired between 2014 and 2015 warrant particular attention; they have included reports of grave human rights violations perpetrated by the Federal Police, the armed forces, and the Navy.

Tlatlaya, Mexico State

On June 30, 2014, 22 people allegedly tied to drug trafficking were killed in a warehouse in the community of “Cuadrilla Nueva,” in the municipality of Tlatlaya following a clash with members of the Mexican Army. A number of these individuals had reportedly been detained and subsequently executed extrajudicially by the soldiers.

Charges were initiated for homicide, unlawful exercise of public office, abuse of authority, aggravated homicide, and unlawful alteration of the crime scene and for the crime of covering-up by soldiers.

According to the official operations document, the soldiers were to “operate en masse during the night and to ease activities during the day so they could take down criminals in hours of darkness.”

Four of the soldiers prosecuted in the civilian courts had been released because of violations of due process. It is of the utmost importance that judicial authorities are able to conduct their investigations and conclude their criminal prosecutions independently and without external interference of any kind.

Apatzingán, Michoacán

A journalistic investigation points to alleged extrajudicial execution by federal agents of at least 16 unarmed civilians, most under the age of 20, who were holding a sitin in front of the city hall in Apatzingán because they had allegedly been fired by the former federal security commissioner in Michoacán, Alfredo Castillo Cervantes, without compensation or pay on January 6, 2015.

The State indicated that the reason the Federal Police had shown up was because they had received an anonymous phone call reporting an armed group engaged in a protest. The ruling issued by District Judge Five determined there was no key proof to indicate who had been carrying the weapons confiscated during the detention and that the number of people was not consistent with the number of weapons seized.

For several civil society organizations, the events in Apatzingán represent one more case of undue use of lethal force as well as a cover up by the authorities to prevent anyone from learning the truth about the facts; for this reason they continue to denounce deficiencies in the investigation. The events that transpired in Apatzingán are still being investigated

Tanhuato, Michoacán

On May 22, 2015, following a clash between federal forces and an alleged criminal group, 43 people (42 civilians and one Federal Police agent) died at the Rancho del Sol, at the border between the municipalities of Tanhuato and Ecuandureo.

According to the State’s version, this was a confrontation. However, according to media reports, there is some debate about the facts. For example, photographs and statements from locals appear to indicate possible acts of torture, extrajudicial executions, crime scene tampering, and the planting of weapons. There was reportedly confirmation that more than 70% of the victims had been shot in the back of the neck at point-blank range, and also that one of the victims had not died from a bullet wound, but rather had been beaten to death.

The bodies were also said to have been moved and the weapons that were allegedly found on them had magazines of different models and thus could not have been used in combat. According to media reports, the relatives of one of those killed—an alleged member of the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel—indicated that after examining the photographs of the bodies, they saw visible burns and broken limbs. Local community members likewise assert that the bodies of their children came back castrated, with marks on their fingers, and in some cases they were missing teeth and an eye. The PGR has taken over the investigation.

When the use of force is essential, such force should be applied in a manner consistent with the principles of legality, absolute need, and proportionality. In all cases where civilians are wounded or killed by the police or the military, the Mexican State must urgently conduct diligent and impartial investigations in order to establish the facts and determine the applicable criminal responsibility.


Women in Mexico continue to be the victims of certain crimes at rates higher than men.

Women in Mexico are victim of 82% of the crimes of simple rape.Women in Mexico are victim of 81% of the crimes of human trafficking Women in Mexico are victim of 79% of the crimes of sexual abuse.Women in Mexico are victim of 79% of the crimes of domestic violence.Women in Mexico are victim of 71% of the offenses equivalent to rape.Women in Mexico are victim of 83% of the crimes against sexual freedom and security.

Alert of Gender Violence Against Women (AVGM)

The violence and attacks against the life and physical integrity against women are some of the reasons why civil society has requested the declaration of an Alert of Gender Violence Against Women (AVGM) on different occasions.
The State informed the Commission that of the 9 requests for an alert that have been processed under this new regulation: one was declared approved 15 months after the request (Morelos); another one was declared denied due to the response of the state government to address the recommendations and proposals made by the working group (Guanajuato); and the remaining 7 requests are still pending within the allowable timeframes.

Murders y "Femicides"

According to INEGI, between 2013 and 2014 seven women were murdered daily in Mexico.According to information available to the Commission, approximately 90% of women victims of violence in the state of Chihuahua are under 18.The OCNF documented that between January 2012 and December 2013, 3,892 women were murdered in Mexico, and only 15.75% (613 cases) were investigated as cases of gender-based violence or femicide. Most of these cases remain unpunished.

Torture y Sexual Torture

Various organizations of Mexican civil society published a report denouncing the existence of a practice of physical and psychological violence, specifically sexual torture against women who are attacked and/or arrested by members of the police, military or navy, usually in the context of government security policies.

The IACHR supports the creation and will follow-up the Mechanism for Addressing Cases of Sexual Torture committed against women,which is the result of an agreement between the Mexican State and the petitioners of the thematic hearing regarding sexual violence, in the context of the 154th Period of Sessions.

Photo credit: Rompeviento Television @ Vimeo

Indigenous Peoples and Communities

Indigenous leaders and defenders of the environment who oppose to extractive projects are being subject to violence at the hand of individuals who are sometimes with support of the local authorities.

It is estimated that 35% of the mexican territory has been concessioned through more than 29,000 concessions—mining, hydroelectric, and wind power. 17% of them are inside some indiengous territories.

Violence in the context of mega-projects has resulted in murders, executions, harassment and threats against indigenous people in many states of the country.

It received information about the misuse of the criminal law against indigenous defenders, environmentalists and peasant leaders.

Photo credit: Luis Enrique Aguilar

Trans Women and LGBT Persons

In Mexico is a frequent practice to classify investigations regarding attacks on the lives and physical integrity of LGBT people as ‘crimes of passion’.

Between 1995 and 2014 there were 1,218 murders in Mexico motivated by prejudice against individuals because of their real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Although some cases go to trial, they commonly remain unresolved and no one is accused.

Mexico must adopt necessary measures to investigate, punish and repair acts of violence against LGBT persons and adopt necessary measures in terms of prevention of violence, including policies aimed at eradicating social discrimination towards LGBT persons, which causes and reinforces the violence based on prejudice.

Situation of Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Transexual, Bisexual and Intersex Indigenous Persons in the Americas. Ronald Céspedes, Quechua Nation – Bolivia / Amaranta Gómez Regalado, Zapoteca Nation – Mexico.

147 IACHR Period of Sessions - Situation of Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Transexual, Bisexual and Intersex Indigenous Persons in the Americas. Ronald Céspedes, Quechua Nation – Bolivia / Amaranta Gómez Regalado, Zapoteca Nation – Mexico.
Photo credit: Oliver Contreras/Eddie Arrossi Photography

Children and Adolescents

Murders and Violent Deaths

Allegedly 2,000 murders of children and adolescents occurred between 2006 and 2014 in Mexico, half of which took place in the course of clashes involving the security forces.According to media, in 2012 372 girls were murdered in Mexico State, which constituted “the highest number in the last 10 years.Mexico has no official systematic data on the total number of children and adolescents who are the victims of violent deaths, nor about the victims of extrajudicial executions.

Rape and Sexual Violence

 In addition, a 270% increase in cases of rape perpetrated against children and adolescents was reported in that state, increasing from 213 to 789 reports per year. It was reported a 270% increase in cases of rape perpetrated against children and adolescents was reported in Mexico, increasing from 213 to 789 reports per year.

Organized Crime

It is common for children and adolescents to become victims of violence by organized crime, in clashes between organized crime gangs. Similarly, the high number of orphans resulting from the loss of one or both parents is cause for concern.

Deprivation of Liberty

In cases of children and adolescents in some type of detention or deprivation of liberty, disciplinary measures include bodily punishment and prolonged isolation.

There is no adequate regulation or supervision of institutions that provide alternative care to children which exposes them to situations of violence, negligence, abuse and exploitation.

Photo credit: Luis Enrique Aguilar

Migrants and Internal Forced Displacement

In the absence of official figures, IDMC statistics indicate that by the end of 2014, Mexico recorded levels of at least 281,400 internally displaced persons.

During the visit to Mexico it was found the state of insecurity and violence affecting the country has led to thousands of people being forced to move internally.

Violence has had a particularly severe impact in causing the forced displacement of groups such as indigenous peoples, human rights defenders and journalists. The fact that the authorities do not recognize the existence of internal displacement, and that their numbers remained unquantified, has favored its invisibility.

It is of great concern that the detention of migrants and persons under international protection continues to be the rule rather than the exception in Mexico.

Photo credit: IACHR Press

Individuals Deprived of Their Liberty

Another serious problem in Mexico is the arbitrary deprivation of liberty and the widespread use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of individuals just after their arrest and before being brought before the courts.

Widespread Use of Pretrial Detention

It was indicated a failure to implement alternative measures to detention, associated both with judicial practices and the regulatory framework. The widespread use of pretrial detention involves real consequences not only for individuals, but represents a significant financial burden for the State, and causes other problems such as overcrowding and a lack of segregation between prosecuted and convicted inmates. According to figures from the Ministry of the Interior, for August 2015, of the 254,469 people detained in Mexican detention centers,476 107,441 remain in pretrial detention, i.e. 42% of the country’s prison population.

Political Arbitrary Detentions

In particular, during its in loco visit, the Commission received troubling information that arbitrary arrests are used as a tool across the country to silence dissenting voices, social and student.

Quasi Flagrante Delicto

According to the Mexican Constitution, an individual may be arrested without a prior judicial order if the individual is apprehended at the time of the commission of an offense or "immediately after having committed it". This latter assumption is known as "quasi flagrante delicto" (flagrancia equiparada).

The concept of quasi flagrante delicto grants excessive leeway to the State regarding detention of suspects of potential suspects, and jeopardizes respect for due process in criminal matters contrary to international human rights standards on the subject.

Torture and Ill-Treatment

Torture and ill-treatment are "widespread", during the first hours of detention the detainees are at high risk.

These usually have the aim of extracting confessions, gaining incriminating information, and to punish the victim.

The most common are fist beatings, kicking with boots, batons and gun butt blows on various parts of the body; insults, threats and humiliation; electric shocks mainly to the genitals; forcing others to witness and/or listen to the torture; wet and dry choking; forced nudity, and sexual torture.According to estimates of the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center (Centro Prodh), approximately 10,000 people are tortured in Mexico annually in the criminal justice system. This statistic was calculated by using as a starting point the figure of 2,000 people, which was announced by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), for the federal criminal justice system, and then extrapolating that figure proportionately to the criminal justice system at the state level, in which five times as many people are processed. It was also indicated that this is a conservative estimate, since the number of complaints reflect that there is a greater proportion of torture cases at the state level than at the federal level.

Precarious Conditions of Detention

Federal and state detention centers suffer from common structural patterns such as overcrowding, corruption and uncontrolled self-government in aspects such as security and access to basic services, violence between inmates, lack of medical attention, a lack of real opportunities for social reintegration, a lack of differentiated attention for groups of special concern, abuse by prison staff, and lack of effective grievance mechanisms.


Regarding the State detention centers, in addition to the main problem of overcrowding, they also suffer from more serious and precarious conditions due to the federated states’ lack of financial resources.


These high levels of corruption largely occur because of a lack of sufficient prison staff, the very precarious working conditions, and the lack of basic equipment to perform their functions.

The persons deprived of their liberty are subject to improper payments by prison staff so that they are provided with services and basic goods, such as food, water and health. They are also required to pay a regular fee in order to avoid being beaten and abused in detention centers.

Uncontrolled Self-Government

There are information on the absolute control exercised by the inmates themselves in some detention centers, particularly in the North of the country where there is a strong presence of organized crime.

They have highlighted the complexity of the situation in detention centers such as Topo Chico, in the State of Nuevo Leon, where the inmates themselves have allegedly beaten and even killed those refusing pay for extortions. They also prevent family members from providing basic necessities to inmates since, allegedly, a private firm sells these kinds of articles inside the facility at exorbitant prices.

Imposition of Disproportionate Disciplinary Sanctions

The application of disciplinary sanctions is disproportionate to the violation being sanctioned, and frequently imposed according to discretionary criteria by the prison staff. Also, the sanctioned inmates lack independent and effective mechanisms to challenge the sanctions.

One of the most common punishments is the imposition of solitary confinement in small cells and in deplorable conditions, for excessively long periods –even months— and restrictions on family visits and phone calls.

Another type of sanction imposed is the transfer to other detention centers in order to restrict contact with persons outside the prison. There is no official notification of the transfer to the inmate, her relatives or legal guardians; and during the course of the transfer, the inmates are allegedly subjected to ill-treatment and torture.

Privatization and Certification of Prisons

Since 2006, several contracts to provide services for the administration and management of detention centers have reportedly been concluded, in order to reduce the financial burden on the State. In order to comply with the terms of their contracts with private companies, each detention center must keep a number of inmates in accordance with basic installed capacity, which would encourage the use of detention as the only means to fight crime.

It is if concern the lack of available information on the contracts concluded by the State and the respective companies, as indicated by civil society organizations.

The Commission states its concern regarding the information received that, at least in some cases, the privatized center regime and the search for international certification, are planned and carried out in light of the US maximum-security structure, which involves standards incompatible with human rights.

Lack of Differentiated Attention for Special Concern Groups

With regard to women deprived of their liberty, it was indicated that from the time of their arrest, they face serious abuses and situations unsuited to their condition. This is due to the absence of a gender perspective in public policies and local regulations.

Regarding persons with disabilities in the prison system, most of them are held in detention centers that are inappropriate for their treatment, and they are housed in reduced areas subject to unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, exacerbated by their health needs.

With regard to migrants, it is of great concern that the detention of migrants and persons under international protection continues to be the rule rather than the exception in Mexico.

Photo credit:

“They took me for arguing with a security chief, for demanding my rights. They left me without calls. The guards hurt my hands. They have not provided attention for my hand. I do not trust the authorities.”

Testimony received by the IACHR at the Santa Martha Women's Center for Social Readaptation, one of the inmates revealed that she had been held for three months in punishment cells for discussing with a security chief; the length of the punishment was confirmed by the authorities, who stated that it was the result of repeated infractions committed by the person being punished.

Human Rights Defenders and Journalists

According to the numbers reported by the CNDH, from September of 2000 until September of 2015 there were 107 journalists killed.During the 2006-2012 time frame, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) registered 245 attacks against defenders.22 defenders and 5 family members killed allegedly for reasons related to their defense of human rights and reported 6 additional defenders whose whereabouts are unknown.

Violence against human rights defenders, justice operators, and journalists is to silence the allegations and the cries for truth and justice, as well as to perpetuate impunity for grave human rights violations.


Journalists who have filed complaints or reported on administrative corruption in the local arena, on drug trafficking, on organized crime and on public safety are murdered, disappeared, threatened, kidnapped and assaulted. During the last decade Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries for journalism. Despite the constitutional and legislative reforms and the adoption of measures to safeguard their integrity of journalists, communicators, and media workers have increased.

Human Rights Defenders

The threats, harassment, murders, and disappearances of individuals who seek truth and justice has led to a cowing of Mexican society, people who have not report these violations to the authorities for fear of reprisals. This leads to a serious problemof underreporting in official figures.

Photo credit: Knight Foundation

“There are thousands disappeared like him. The investigations have yielded no results and we are the ones who have to carry out the search. We are suffering because of the indifference.”

The mother of a disappeared man in the State of Nuevo León

Collusion Between Agents of the State and Members of Organized Crime

In many cases, criminal groups act in apparent direct collusion with State authorities, or at least with their acquiescence.

The Commission received testimony —especially in the rural parts of the country— on the collusion between criminal groups and members of the municipal police forces. Some Mexican authorities have also recognized to the IACHR that many municipal police officers are either overwhelmed or coopted by organized crime.

These criminal organizations have been able to establish a generalized regime of violence and serious human rights violations, in some cases with the collusion of State authorities.


The Ayotzinapa case is an emblematic example of collusion between State agents and members of criminal organizations, since according to the official version of events, the Iguala municipal police colluded with a criminal group to disappear the students. In addition, according to the GIEI, members of the state police, the federal police, and members of the army were present during the events. Therefore they may have also been colluded with organized grime groups.

Photo credit: Daniel Cima for the IACHR

Photo credit: Daniel Cima for the IACHR

Drug Policies: “War on Drugs”

Since the launch of the so-called “war on drugs” in 2006, serious situations of violence increased until they reached alaming levels, including the subsequent loss of more than 100,000 human lives, thousands of disappearances, and a context that has caused the displacement of thousands of people in the country.

In addition to the high homicide rate, another concern is that the vast majority of these crimes go unpunished.

Militarization and Human Rights Violations

Providing the armed forces a role that should correspond to civilian police forces to fight against drug trafficking has resulted in an increase in violence and violations of human rights in Mexico.

Between 2007 and 2011 the number of members of the armed forces involved in public security duties doubled, and the current administration has during its term in office so far spent 100 times more on weapons than previous administrations.

The fatality index of the confrontations with the army was of 7.7 civilian deaths for every civilian wounded. This is because in authentic confrontations, there tend to be more people wounded than killed, because when police use force legitimately, they seek to maim and not to kill.

States must restrict to the maximum extent the use of armed forces to control domestic disturbances, since they are trained to fight against enemies and not to protect and control civilians, a task that is typical of police forces.

I/A Court H.R., Case of Montero Aranguren et al. (Retén de Catia) v. Venezuela. Judgment of July 5, 2006, Series C No. 150, para. 78.

Impunity, Access to Justice and Judicial Independence

When violent crimes end up in impunity, the violence is perpetuated, as the perpetrators do not face the consequences of their actions, creating a spiral of impunity. This impunity is itself a form of discrimination in terms of access to justice. The current crisis of serious human rights violations Mexico is experiencing is in part a consequence of the impunity.

Impunity levels in Mexico have been historically high, and the IACHR has received alarming information indicating that as many as 98% of crimes reported in Mexico do not result in a conviction.

This problem permeates the police, the courts, and many public prosecutors’ offices, producing a generalized perception of impunity.

In addition, impunity and corruption are closely-related phenomenons that erode citizen trust in the authorities, which also leads to impunity that exacerbates the climate of violence.

Photo credit: Daniel Cima for the IACHR

Recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Mexico


It is urgent for the Mexican State to adopt concrete, prompt and effective measures to fight against corruption at all levels and in all three branches of government.

Law Against Torture

Mexico must adopt a General Law against Torture that excludes “evidence” or “confessions” obtained through the use of torture from the criminal process and establish the mandatory use of cameras and other security protocols during investigations and inside police vehicles, as a measure to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments.

National Registry of Disappeared Persons

Mexico must Improve the National Registry of Disappeared Persons to become a sole registry of disappearance so that it can also register a person as a victim of forced disappearance.

Investigate Disappearances

Mexico must deploy domestic mechanisms to obtain information to locate disappeared rapidly and to conduct the investigations and effectively and promptly prosecute and punish those responsible.

Immediate Search for Disappeared Persons

Mexico must establish mechanisms of immediate search for disappeared persons in the entire national territory..

Prosecutors’ Offices

Mexico must strengthen the prosecutors’ offices throughout the country in terms of technical and independent training, with the objective of guaranteeing investigations with due diligence. Establish a coherent plan regarding cooperation between prosecution authorities at the federal and state levels in the investigation of gross human rights violations.

Armed Forces and Citizen Security

Mexico must develop a concrete plan for the gradual withdrawal of the Armed Forces from public security tasks and for the recovery of such tasks by the civilian police forces.


Mexico must comply with the series of recommendations formulated in the Report Human Rights of Migrantes and Other Persons in the Context of Human Mobility in Mexico.

Internal Displacement

Mexico must adopt specific legislation at the federal and state level to address internal displacement and ensure, at the federal level, that there is an institution in charge of the protection of persons who are victims of forced displacement.

Human Rights Defenders

Mexico must strengthen the instances in charge of protection of human rights defenders and journalists, so that their life and integrity can properly be guaranteed. At the same time, incorporate gender and multicultural perspectives in the design and adoption of protection measures for defenders and journalists.
Cover the IACHR Report, Situation of Human Rights in Mexico