Mistrust in police and the danger of normalizing torture in Oaxaca

OAXACA, OAX. – According to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), 57.1 percent of the population does not trust the municipal police in their city, due to the impunity with which authorities have acted in Mexico.

The increase in mistrust towards the organs imparting justice, the re-victimization of people who have experienced serious human rights violations, and torture, are the causes for the decrease in formal complaints and the increase in the underreporting of torture cases.

In 2022, the state of Oaxaca registered six deaths inside municipal jails: Salina Cruz, Santa María Huatulco, Santa Catarina Juquila, Tlalixtac de Cabrera, Juchitán de Zaragoza, and San Andrés Chicahuaxtla. In most cases, municipal police officers were accused of torture, but are not mentioned by name.

Recently, the LXV Legislature of Oaxaca approved an exhortation to the head of the State Executive Branch and to the Secretary of Public Security to provide training to police officers in order to prevent arbitrary detentions, human rights violations and cases of torture (the latter also omitted from the legislators’ exhortation).

At Codigodh we have documented the torture exercised during arbitrary arrests: “In Mexico we have grown up with the idea that the violence committed by the police during arrests is something normal, which prevents us from seeing the seriousness of these practices such as torture and cruel treatment, as well as the psychological impact they cause in the lives of the victims and especially their families”.

In 2022 alone, the Oaxaca Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (DDHPO) documented 135 arbitrary detentions in the state.

To learn more about what is an arbitrary detention, what are the most common methods of torture used in Oaxaca, and what to do if I witness an arbitrary detention, we invite you to download HERE and read the “Illustrated Guide to Arbitrary Detention and Torture in Oaxaca”.