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UA 235/15
Abgeschlossen am 18. November 2015

Torture victim held incommunicado

AI-Index: AMR 41/2699/2015

A Lieutenant of the Mexican Army and victim of torture has been taken away from the military prison where he had been detained since 2011 and transferred to a civilian federal prison without any communication with his lawyers or family. There are fears for his safety including the risk of attacks and intimidation from prisoners or authorities.

In the early morning on 16 October Julián Castilla Flores was suddenly removed from his cell in the prison of Military Barracks #1 in Mexico City and loaded onto a convoy with over 40 other prisoners, according to his family members. That same morning his lawyer went to the military prison, where officials said that Julián Castilla Flores was no longer inside the premises. The lawyer had not been notified of this movement nor of the destination of his client, and presented a habeus corpus action. On 19 October a federal judge provided information from the Ministry of Defense informing that military authorities transferred Julián Castilla Flores to a federal prison in Veracruz, southern Mexico. According to relatives of other detainees, military personnel used physical aggression and threats when they took detainees away in the military convoy. Julián Castilla Flores has been held incommunicado since 16 October.

Julián Castilla Flores was detained arbitrarily on 14 March 2011 by military police in Chiapas State, where he had been posted as a Lieutenant in the Mexican army. That same day he was transferred to the Federal Attorney General’s Office on organized crime (SEIDO) in Mexico City, and during the journey was subject to various methods of torture including asphyxiation, water treatment to simulate drowning, and electric shocks. Julián Castilla Flores has been in prison since 2011, accused of being an informant to organized criminal groups. His trial is being carried out in military jurisdiction where it has reached its conclusion and awaits sentencing.

Julián Castilla Flores has faced increasing threats and intimidations in recent months from military prison personnel. This includes the latent threat of transferring him to a federal prison run by civilian authorities, where he could be exposed to adverse conditions and forced to co-inhabit with other inmates who could put him at risk due to his military profile. His transfer to a federal prison was carried out without any notification and his lack of contact with lawyers or family is a clear violation of due process and puts him at risk of torture and ill-treatment.

Additional Information

Torture is widespread in Mexico. Police and military officers often use it in the context of public security operations in order to extract “confessions” or “information” from criminal suspects or from people who are simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Officers also use torture to instil fear on detainees so that they are less likely to come forward and report the abuses they suffer.
In a survey commissioned last year by Amnesty International, 64 per cent of respondents feared suffering torture if taken into custody. According to the National Human Rights Commission, there was a six-fold rise in the number of complaints for torture and other forms of ill-treatment received between 2003 and 2013. Between 2010 and 2013 alone there were more than 7,000 complaints. The Commission reported a slight decrease in 2014. However, the Commission’s mandate focuses on allegations against federal officials only. Nobody knows the extent of torture by municipal and state-level officials, who represent the vast majority of police officers in the country.
Torture is frequently carried out by members of the army against civilians, but also against members of the army itself. In June 2014 the Code of Military Justice excluded from the military justice system crimes committed by members of the armed forces against civilians. However, the reforms failed to exclude from military jurisdiction those human rights violations committed against members of the armed forces.

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