Meet Our Members:
The Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad (CCTI) is based in Acapulco on Mexico’s Pacific coast. CCTI was born from the onslaught of police brutality faced by citizens during the past two decades of the State’s War on Drugs.
“In Mexico, torture is systematic and widespread,” says CCTI’s founding member, Dr Javier Enriquez Sam, who sadly passed away in 2021. “Grave violations of human rights continue in Mexico, since there is no way to stop this situation, or to punish or sanction the ones responsible for these acts.”
So CCTI’s mission, says Cristian Urbalejo Luna, General Coorindator, is to “contribute to the construction of the rule of law” through documenting torture, and thereby challenging prevailing impunity. With some 40,000 people suffering enforced disappearance between 2009 and 2018, CCTI provides psychosocial support to not only survivors, but the families of those still missing.
“The purpose of repression is to hinder the mobilisation of our struggle, our voices, our cause,” says Enrique Guerrero Avina, a former political prisoner who was held for over five years. “But in the end, as a collective, we managed to demonstrate that we were right.”
Training Experts to Prevent Cover-Ups
Mexico’s ongoing 15-year ‘War on Drugs’ has unleashed terrifying police violence. Tens of thousands of Mexican citizens have been tortured with impunity. As well as providing rehabilitation to survivors, IRCT member the Collective Against Torture and Impunity (CCTI) trains independent experts to document torture using the internationally agreed Istanbul Protocol.
“The only accountability mechanism we’ve had is to evaluate official reports. And that’s been quite a challenge because the official experts’ reports try to hide that torture is something that is still happening here in Mexico.”
Mexico’s 2017 General Law on Torture for the first time allows evidence of torture documented by independent experts, rather than State officials, to be considered in court and other official proceedings. Before the 2017 law, Mexican police routinely tortured detainees to force them to confess to crimes they did not commit.
Accurately documenting torture to challenge official cover ups is a crucial first step in Mexico’s long road to healing and justice. The CCTI is at the forefront of this effort using and training others to use the updated Istanbul Protocol to better document Mexico’s many torture survivors.
TRAINING ON THE ISTANBUL PROTOCOL IN MEXICO, CREDIT: CCTI
Survivors Speak Out:
Osvaldo Rodriguez, Mexico
Osvaldo Rodriguez is one of tens of thousands of Mexican citizens tortured with impunity over the past two decades. In their ‘war’ on organised crime, Mexican police use arbitrary arrest and torture to extract confessions from the innocent.
After 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, IRCT member, the Collective Against Torture and Impunity (CCTI) helped secure Osvaldo’s acquittal and release. “The most difficult aspect of torture is not really the beatings,” says Osvaldo. “It’s more the damage that leaves you marked for the rest of your life. I would prefer not to feel it. Fear of not knowing where next … I still need to do a lot of work. There is much left to do.”
Torture evidence overturns false confession
On 10 July 2012, Yecenia Armenta Graciano was detained, raped and tortured for 15 hours by the police in Culiacan, Mexico, until she agreed to sign a “confession” for involvement in the murder of her husband. However, an examination by the State forensics office, which the UN criticised as biased, found “no physical or psychological evidence” of torture. IRCT’s Independent Forensic Expert Group (IFEG) was asked to intervene. IFEG examined Yecenia and documented compelling evidence of torture. The judge agreed, rejecting the State’s report as flawed. On 8 June 2016, Yecenia was freed.
Credit: Amnesty International