Mexico: Raise your voice with Angel to help end torture
Angel Amílcar Colón Quevedo was tortured and unjustly detained in Mexico. He is seeking justice and reparations in order to protect others from what he suffered.
Angel Amílcar Colón Quevedo is a defender of the rights of his people, the Garifuna Indigenous people of Honduras. He was travelling through Mexico in search of work that would enable him to pay for cancer treatment for his son when he was detained by police in the northern city of Tijuana in March 9, 2009. What followed was a nightmare of torture and injustice.
Angel was tortured by the police then handed over to soldiers at a military base who beat him, subjected him to water-boarding, and put a plastic bag over his head then jumped on his chest to cause near asphyxiation, amongst other forms of physical and psychological torture. He was forced to sign a confession to crimes he had not committed.
Angel retracted the “confession” when brought before a judge. He reported the torture to which he had been subjected. There was no investigation. Instead, Angel was sent to a high security prison where he languished for more than 5 years, even though he was never brought to trial and the only evidence against him was his “confession”, extracted under torture. During that time, Angel’s son died.
In July 2014, Amnesty declared Angel to be a prisoner of conscience and began campaigning for his release. On October 2014, the authorities dropped all charges and released Angel from prison.
Angel credits international pressure for helping to secure his freedom. But he knows only too well that many other people are being taken into custody in Mexico, where they are tortured by state security forces into confessing to involvement in organized crime. Such "confessions" are used to show success in the state's war on drugs.
“I will not give up until I achieve justice,” says Angel. “As long as there is no justice in my case, others will suffer as I have because those who use torture know they will get away with it.”
On September 10, 2016, the Mexican government's human rights commission (CNDH) issued an important public statement calling for long overdue action by authorities to ensure justice for Angel. The CNDH publicly acknowledged that Angel suffered serious human rights abuses during incommunicado detention in a military installation. The commission calls on federal and state authorities to ensure reparations to Angel in the form of damages, psychological support and investigation to bring those responsible to account. The commission also calls for an end to the practice of taking people detained by the police to military installations.
While these important recommendations are made by the government's own human rights body, they are non-binding. Authorities do not have to comply. For this reason, it is vitally important to call for full and immediate implementation.
Write a short, polite letter to Mexico’s Attorney General. Since Mexican authorities care about their country's international image, start your letter by saying something about yourself and where you are writing from.
- Express your concern about how Angel Amílcar Colón Quevedo was tortured first by police and then by soldiers at a military base in order to force him to confess to crimes he had not committed. Emphasize that three years after Angel was released from unjust detention and all charges against him dropped, he has yet to receive reparations or see those who violated his rights brought to justice.
- Call for full and immediate implementation of Recommendation 33/2017 issued by Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) in September 2016, including damages, psychological support and immediate investigation to bring all those responsible for the torture of Angel to justice.
Send your message to:
Raul Cervantes Andrade
Procuradora General de la República
Procuraduría General de la República (PGR)
Reforma 211-213, Col. Cuauhtémoc, C.P. 06500
México D.F., México
Fax: 011 52 55 5346 0908 (say: "Fax por favor")
Salutation: Dear Attorney General
Given Canada's close relationship with Mexico, send a copy to:
Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6