Mexico: Police Launch Wave of Repression in Chihuahua

According to reports received by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, gay men and transvestites in the Mexican city of Chihuahua began to suffer an intense campaign of harassment and repression beginning sometime in October of 1994. That repression continues today. Urgent and strongly worded letters are needed insisting that all government attacks against sexual minorities in the state of Chihuahua cease immediately.

Groups operating in Chihuahua have documented a wide range of rights violations conducted by law enforcement officers. These rights violations include verbal harassment, threats, physical attacks, beatings, mass police sweeps (including raids on bars and private homes) extortion, property damage, arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions and torture while in custody.

One common pattern is for gay men and transvestites to be stopped on the streets. They are then asked for "fines" of between 200 to 400 pesos. The fines are justified as warranted under trumped up charges of prostitution or offending public morality. Those who cannot or will not pay have been detained for periods lasting thirty six to seventy four hours. Witnesses and passersby who protest police misconduct are threatened with similar treatment.

There is evidence to suggest high level official involvement in orchestrating the wave of repression. For example, one victim alleges that the police force that raided his house was led by Miguel Angel Martínez, the brother of Chihuahua's Municipal President. The victim further alleges that Mr. Martínez severely beat him and accused him of being a public health menace. He was then detained for three days and fined 400 pesos after being accused of disobeying police commands and disrupting public order.

Official complaints to police authorities have been ignored. One witness claims that the chief of the Municipal Police of Chihuahua said that the complaints would not be pursued because homosexuals are "a social problem".

Strongly worded letters should make the following points:

  1. The attacks cited above represent brazen violations of the most fundamental human rights and constitutional guarantees enumerated in numerous international treaties and the Mexican constitution. An exhaustive and impartial investigation needs to be launched immediately and any police officer found to be guilty of these acts needs to be suspended immediately.
  2. As a human rights activist you intend to keep abreast of developments in Chihuahua. Given the current social crises in the country, Mexico can ill afford scrutiny of this sort into its human rights violations. Indicate your interest in knowing how your concerns will be responded to.

Write to:

Lic. Jesús José Solis Silva
Director de Seguridad Pública Municipal
Ayuntamiento de Chihuahua
Chihuahua, Chihuahua
Lic. Francisco Barrio Terrazas
Gobernador Constitucional del Estado de Chihuahua
Chihuahua, Chihuahua
fax: +52-14-16-07-19

Send copies of your letters to:

Lic. Jorge Madrazo Cuellar
Comisión Nacional de Drechos Humanos
Periferico Sur No 3469
Col. San Jeronimo Lidice Deleg. Magdalena Contreas
Mexico, D.F. C.P. 10200
fax: +52-56-81-71-99