18 October 2014

Mexico releases prisoner of conscience

Good news: According to Amnesty International (AI), "[p]risoner of conscience and torture victim Ángel Amílcar Colón Quevedo has been released from [a Mexican] prison after five years in pre-trial detention, in a move that is welcome but long overdue."

Huge thanks to the more than 20,000 AI activists who have taken action demanding his release.

The following is AI's summary of the case:

Ángel Colón was arrested by police in Tijuana, northern Mexico, while traveling from his home in Honduras to the United States in March 2009. He was then tortured by police and soldiers: beaten, asphyxiated and racially abused. He was forced to sign a false statement which was used to implicate him in criminal activity. He retracted the statement when brought before a judge and reported his torture to the authorities who failed to take any action.

The Mexican Federal Attorney General has now agreed to drop charges against Ángel Colón and he has been released unconditionally.

"Ángel Colón suffered torture at the hands of the Mexican authorities and has had years of his life wasted in pre-trial detention. This is an outrage," said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at AI. "The Mexican authorities can and do more to ensure torture is never used by police or military officials, and that any reports of torture are swiftly and thoroughly investigated. They cannot allow the injustices inflicted on Ángel Colón to ever be repeated."

But, sadly, Ángel Colón's case is not unusual.

Last month, AI published a report, Out of control: Torture and other ill-treatment in Mexico, which noted that reports of torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of police and soldiers had risen by 600 percent over a decade.

According to a survey conducted by AI, 64 percent of Mexicans said they were afraid of being tortured if detained by the police or other authorities.

But we'll be watching.

See a moving video message from Ángel Colón here.

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