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Petitioners: La Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH); Litigio Estratégico en Derechos Humanos (I(DH)EAS); Instituto Mexicano de Derechos Humanos y Democracia (IMDHD); Comisión Ciudadana de Derechos Humanos del Noroeste (CCDH); Colectivo de Organizaciones Michoacanas de Derechos Humanos (COMDH); Federación Internacional de Derechos Humanos (FIDH); Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL) Respondent: State of Mexico Commissioners: Rodrigo Escobar Gil, Dinah Shelton, Felipe González Topic: Thematic hearing focusing on a type of informal, preventive detention (“arraigo”) used in Mexico On Monday, March 28, 2011, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held a thematic hearing regarding the human rights situation of persons in preventive detention (“arraigo”) in Mexico. Petitioners included several representatives from La Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH), at least one representative of the Colectivo de Organizaciones Michoacanas de Derechos Humanos (COMDH), and a lawyer for victims of the “michoacanazo” (the May 2009 detention of over 25 municipal authorities from the state of Michoacán who were accused of supporting La Familia Michoacana, a notorious drug cartel). Representatives for the State of Mexico included Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, Subsecretary of the Multilateral Issues and Human Rights Office within the Department of Foreign Relations, and Fernando Coronado Franco, Legal Counsel for the Human Rights Commission of the Distrito Federal. The petitioners argued that the use of arraigo is unconstitutional and therefore must be eradicated. Arraigo is a type of informal detention ranging from 40 to 80 days, in which the suspect is either held in a specially designed facility or placed under house arrest, to allow the authorities to better investigate the case and, as the state contended, protect the victims from further harm. Although arraigo is provided for under Article 12 of the federal Law Against Organized Crime, the petitioners claimed there is no jurisdictional control over the legality of the detention and that judicial and other legal resources are ineffective in combating its use. The petitioners also argued that, in the past, arraigo was only used in cases of organized crime, but now it is utilized for people accused of all types of federal, state, and local serious crimes. Finally, the petitioners presented evidence showing that from June 2008 to April 2010, of the 120 complaints received by the National Commission for Human Rights, 77 persons complained of being tortured while in detention. The State of Mexico countered many of the petitioners’ arguments by repeatedly emphasizing that arraigo is a method with “a solid constitutional base” and is “completely in accord with international standards of human rights.” The State emphasized that “in every moment the Mexican State guarantees personal liberty to its citizens,” and that the use of arraigo increases efficiency when conducting complex investigations. As such, the State contended, arraigo has definite limits and is only applied in cases involving organized crime under federal law, thus directly contradicting the petitioners’ claim. Commissioner Felipe González noticed this discrepancy and asked for clarification as to whom the measure applies. Additionally, Commissioner Dinah Shelton asked whether, under Article 16 of the Law Against Organized Crime, witnesses could be taken into detention for protection and if it has ever been used for that purpose. These questions were not directly answered. The State maintained its position that use of arraigo is strictly limited and that all detained persons have adequate supervision, health care, food, and visitation rights, as well as full access to an attorney. The State charged that the petitioners were referring to procedures in use before the constitutional reforms of 2008. The petitioners responded by requesting that the Commission make a recommendation to the State to eradicate the process of arraigo—a recommendation, the petitioners asserted, that was already made by the five principal organs of the United Nations. Additionally, the petitioners reinforced their earlier claims that arraigo violates fundamental human rights, has been arbitrarily applied in cases other than organized crime, and is an inefficient procedure that deprives persons of their liberty for a prolonged period of time. Listen to the hearing below. Escucha en español. [podcast]http://www.cidh.org/audiencias/141/18.mp3[/podcast]