Mexican troops assigned to the war on drugs tortured eight people to extract confessions, the independent National Human Rights Commission said.
The torture occurred April 9, when soldiers detained eight people during a burial in Villa de Ahumada, a suburb of the border city of Ciudad Juarez.
Soldiers surrounded the cemetery, forced everyone to stay face down on the ground for two hours, took identification and personal belongings, and arrested eight people to make them confess to carrying illegal arms and drug trafficking, the commission said.
The victims were threatened, beaten, subjected to electric shocks and suffocated with plastic bags.
They were charged and jailed, but authorities later released them for lack of evidence.
The rights panel called on the Defense Secretariat to pay compensation and identify those responsible for arbitrary arrest, illegal arrest and torture, among other charges.
The commission said the secretariat should investigate the 76th Infantry Battalion stationed in Juarez.
The rights panel, whose recommendations are not legally binding, said those arrested in military operations should not be taken to army installations.
Army facilities should not be used as “arrest, detention and torture centers,” the National Human Rights Commission said.
The commission said, moreover, that medical personnel in charge of performing physical examinations should follow the law and report cases of abuse or torture.
Different groups have accused the army of human rights violations during the war on drugs, which is being waged by some 50,000 soldiers.
The soldiers are participating in the joint military-police operations against organized crime groups, mainly drug cartels, launched by the government starting in December 2006.
Chihuahua – which includes Juarez, Mexico’s deadliest city – is one of the states plagued by drug-related violence.
Nearly 8,000 soldiers have been deployed in the northern state.
September 29, 2009
Latin American Herald Tribune