Amnesty activists wrapped in plastic in solidarity with victims of torture in London, 2014.

Mexico: Torture victim released after two decades behind bars

A Mexican Supreme Court judgement ordering the immediate release of a man jailed more than two decades ago on the basis of a confession extracted under torture is an important victory for justice.

Confession obtained through torture

The Supreme Court ordered Alfonso Martín del Campo Dodd’s release on 18 March. He spent nearly 23 years in prison after being convicted in 1992 for the murder of his sister and brother-in-law, crimes he only confessed to after being arbitrarily detained and tortured in Mexico City.

“Alfonso Martín del Campo Dodd’s release is a long-overdue victory for justice. His case should have been thrown out decades ago after torture was used to extract his confession – a clear violation of international human rights law,” said Perseo Quiroz, Executive Director of Amnesty International Mexico.

“This Supreme Court ruling again underscores the urgency of tackling the widespread use of torture in Mexico’s justice system, something highlighted earlier this month by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.”

Arbitrary detention

Alfonso Martín del Campo was arbitrarily detained on 30 May 1992 in Mexico City and agents of the local Prosecutor General’s office beat, smothered and threatened him. Years later, a police officer admitted that he and other police officers had tortured him. But the authorities ignored this and other evidence of his torture, including medical reports.

Amnesty International believes the case is emblematic because it demonstrates the multiple flaws within Mexico’s criminal justice system which continue to allow arbitrary detention and evidence extracted under torture.

Inadequate investigations

The organization has documented many cases in which judges continue to accept testimonies obtained under torture. Meanwhile, allegations of torture are not adequately investigated. Official forensic reports are often deficient and those carried out by independent experts are often ignored.

Evidence ignored by authorities

Even though Alfonso Martín del Campo was seen by an independent expert who confirmed he had been tortured, the local and federal justice system ignored this evidence for more than two decades.

“Torture victims in our country deserve, at the very least, for judges to take into consideration any independent expertise proving that they were tortured,” said Perseo Quiroz

Numerous international bodies documented Alfonso Martín del Campo’s case and confirmed his torture, including the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Thorough investigation necessary

Amnesty International urges the Federal District Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate the murder of Alfonso Martín del Campo’s sister and brother-in-law and bring those responsible to justice. Alfonso Martín del Campo also has a right to reparation from the State for the human rights violations he suffered.