The 1917 Constitution of the United Mexican States (as amended, most recently in August 2018), provides that every person Mexico "shall enjoy the human rights guarantees granted by this Constitution and by international treaties to which Mexico is party, which cannot be restricted or suspended except in such cases and under such conditions as are herein provided by this Constitution.”Art. 1(1), 1917 Constitution of the United Mexican States (as amended).Fundamental human rights, such as to life and to freedom from torture, are non-derogable.Art. 29(2), 1917 Constitution of the United Mexican States (as amended).Article 9 of the Constitution guarantees the right of peaceful assembly.
Article 21(9) stipulates that: “The actions of public security institutions will be governed by the principles of legality, objectivity, efficiency, professionalism, honesty, and respect for the human rights recognised by this Constitution.”
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||Yes|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|1948 Charter of the Organization of American States||State Party|
|1969 Inter-American Convention on Human Rights||State Party|
|Competence of Inter-American Court on Human Rights||Yes|
Police Use of Force
According to the 2009 Federal Police Act (Ley de la Policia Federal) (as amended), the Federal Police must “refrain at all times from inflicting or tolerating acts of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, even when dealing with a superior order or arguing special circumstances, such as threats to Public Security, the urgency of investigations or any other; to the knowledge of it, shall denounce it immediately before the competent authority”Art. 19(V), 2009 Federal Police Act.It further provides that the Federal Police must “use force in a rational and proportional manner, in full compliance with human rights, while maintaining itself within the boundaries and scope established by the applicable legal dispositions and previously established processes, as well as those established by the present law.”Art. 19(33-34), 2009 Federal Police Act.
The 2017 Interior Security Act provides that in the exercise of Homeland Security powers, the principles of "rationality, timeliness, proportionality, temporality, subsidiarity and graduality, as well as the obligations related to the legitimate use of force, shall be observed”.Art. 3, 2017 Homeland Security Act.The Act defines “legitimate use of force” as:
The rational and proportional use of techniques, tactics, methods, weapons and protocols carried out by the staff of the Federal Forces and, where appropriate, the Armed Forces, to control, repel or neutralize acts of resistance, according to its characteristics and methods of execution.Art. 4(X), 2017 Homeland Security Act.
It further specifies that “the acts performed by the authorities for the application of this law shall respect, protect and guarantee at all times and without exception, human rights and their guarantees, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, international treaties and the protocols issued by the corresponding authorities.”Art. 7, 2017 Homeland Security Act.
A new federal law on police use of force was issued in May 2019. According to the law, firearms or lethal force may be used "to repel highly dangerous resistance" ("las resistencias de alta peligrosidad" in the original Spanish). Amnesty International has contested the constitutionality of the new law in an amicus curiae.
Use of Force in Custodial Settings
The 1993 Public Security Act applicable to Mexico City regulates the use of force in custodial settings, requiring that members of the Public Security Corps shall “watch over the life and physical integrity of the persons detained or in their custody" and “not inflict or tolerate any acts of torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatments to the persons in their custody, even when complying with the order of a superior or arguing special circumstances such as a threat to public safety, urgency of investigation or any other grounds. Should they acquire knowledge of such acts, they must report them immediately to the competent authority”.Art. 17(XI-XII), 1993 Public Security Act.
There is no independent external police oversight body in Mexico although the Ombudsman can take up complaints of unlawful use of force against the police.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In 2015, in its Concluding Observations on Mexico the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed its particular concern about the "prevalence of torture and other cruel or degrading treatment or punishment of children, particularly migrant children, children in street situations and children in police custody and other forms of detention".
International Criminal Court
Over the years, a number of complaints have been filed against Mexican leaders, including the then president Felipe Calderon, for crimes against humanity as a result of extrajudicial executions during the struggle against drug cartels in Mexico. The complaints were summarily dismissed by the erstwhile prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo.
There have been no cases before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights concerning excessive police use of force in recent years.
In March 2018, two police officers were sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder of a Mexican journalist, "marking a rare conviction in a country where crimes committed against media members almost always remain in the realm of impunity." The police officers, identified as Luigui Heriberto N and José Francisco N, were convicted of killing newspaper owner Moisés Sánchez in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, the deadliest place for journalists to work in the hemisphere. The two officers were also ordered to pay $18,000 in compensation, according to a statement from the Veracruz prosecutor’s office.