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Mexico frees women raped, tortured to confess crime

18 November 2016, 17:57

Mexico City - Three Mexican women who were raped and tortured by marines into confessing crimes in 2011 were released from prison on Thursday after a judge acquitted them, Amnesty International said.

Denise Lovato, Korina Urtrera and Wendy Diaz left jail in the central state of Morelos after spending more than five years behind bars, the London-based rights group said.

"Denise, Korina and Wendy should have never been imprisoned in the first place," Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty's Americas director.

"Their harrowing stories show the tragic state of human rights in Mexico, where security forces routinely sexually abuse women to secure 'confessions' in an attempt to show that they are tackling rampant organised crime," Guevara-Rosas said.

Mexican police and troops have been embroiled in a slew of torture scandals since the government launched a militarised campaign against drug cartels in 2006.

The United Nations special rapporteur on torture said in 2015 that torture was a "generalised" practice among Mexican security forces.

A glimmer of hope

Amnesty issued a report in June on the stories of 100 women who endured torture and other forms of violence, including sexual abuse, during their arrests and interrogations by police and the military.

Of those women, 72 said they were sexually attacked during their arrest or in the hours that followed while 33 reported being raped.

The release of the three women "brings a glimmer of hope to hundreds of others who are held behind bars unfairly across Mexico," Amnesty said.

"Investigations should now take place into the torture of Denise, Korina and Wendy and those responsible should face justice," Guevara-Rosas said.

Amnesty has launched an international campaign calling for the release of Veronica Razo, a mother of two, who has spent more than five years in prison after federal police allegedly subjected her to 24 hours of torture to confess to a crime.

President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration, who inherited the drug war when he took office in 2012, has backed legislation to prevent torture but security forces have continued to commit abuses during his tenure.

In April, Mexico's military chief issued a rare apology after a video emerged showing soldiers and police putting a plastic bag over a woman's head to cut off her oxygen as they interrogated her.

Foreign experts investigating the disappearance of 43 college students in 2014 said there was evidence the authorities tortured at least 17 suspects.

- AFP

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