Alvarado Espinoza et al. v. Mexico

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Relatives as Victims | Right to Know the Truth | Duty to Investigate | Obligation to Prevent

Themes: Prevention | Justice and Truth

The Court reiterated that it is legitimate to rely upon circumstantial evidence, suggestions and presumptions in order to prove the elements of an enforced disappearance. The Court also reaffirmed that maintaining internal public order and safety should be primarily reserved for civil police forces, and that when the armed forces exceptionally intervene in security tasks, their participation must be:
(a) Exceptional, justified, temporary and restricted to what is strictly necessary in the circumstances of the case;
b) Subordinate and supplementary to the work of civil forces;
c) Regulated through legal mechanisms and protocols on using force; and
d) Supervised by competent, independent and technically capable civilian authorities.
Finally, regarding the displacement of the family groups, the Court concluded that the State failed to guarantee the right to a residence and the right to protection of the family who were forced to move due to the enforced disappearance of their relatives and the threats and harassment.

Judgment Date

September 30, 2019

Country

Mexico

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 1(1) [ACHR], Article 2 [ACHR], Article 3 [ACHR], Article 4 [ACHR], Article 5(1) [ACHR], Article 5(2) [ACHR], Article 7 [ACHR], Article 8 [ACHR], Article 17 [ACHR], Article 22 [ACHR], Article 63(2) [ACHR], Article 1 [IACFDP], Article 1(a) [IACFDP], Article 1(b) [IACFDP], Article 9 [IACFDP]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 11 [ACHR], Article 19 [ACHR], Article 7 [IACPPEVW]

Facts of the Case

In the evening of 29 December 2009, Mr. José Ángel Alvarado Herrera and Ms. Nitza Paola Alvarado Espinoza were in a van parked outside Mr. Alvarado Herrera's mother-in-law's house in Ejido Benito Juárez, Chihuahua. The van was stopped by 8 to 10 people wearing military uniforms, who forced them to board one of the private vans in which they arrived, after which they fled in an unknown direction. A few hours later, between 8 and 10 people wearing military uniforms arrived at the home of Ms. Rocío Irene Alvarado Reyes, also located in Ejido Benito Juárez. After detaining her, they forced her into a vehicle which left the area.

The cases occurred in the context of a pattern of disappearances and impunity in Mexico. In particular, there was an increase in criminal violence and human rights violations associated with implementing the "Operativos Conjuntos" (Joint Operations). This was partly the result of militarisation as a public security strategy in the "war on drugs" which began in 2006.

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