An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Australia

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits such practices, and the government generally respected these provisions. There were occasional claims police and prison officials mistreated suspects in custody.

In July an investigative news program revealed that from 2010 until 2015, some juveniles at the Don Dale Detention Center in the Northern Territory were tear-gassed, physically assaulted, stripped naked, shackled, and hooded. A spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stated the mistreatment at the detention center may breach two human rights conventions, and could amount to torture. Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles removed the Corrections Minister, brought responsibility for the detention center under the Chief Minister’s Office, and vowed to build a new youth detention center. In July, Prime Minister Turnbull announced a joint royal commission into juvenile detention in the Northern Territory, and the reports have prompted calls for the commission to look into alleged abuses in other states.

In November 2015 the government investigated the death of an indigenous woman in police custody in Western Australia. The coroner investigated claims of mistreatment and neglect of the woman in custody and the “failure to respond with sufficient urgency” by police to the woman’s deteriorating health. A Western Australian Police senior detective told the inquest that police did not directly cause the woman’s death; however, their neglect “may have contributed to her demise.” The senior constable responsible for the woman while in custody received an administrative warning from the assistant police commissioner and an internal police investigation found 11 police officers failed to comply with appropriate police regulations. The government did not conclude its official inquiry by year’s end.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison and detention center conditions generally met international standards.

Physical Conditions: In June 2015 the Australian Institute of Criminology reported 53 deaths in prison in 2012-13. Of the 53 deaths, 32 were from natural causes, nine from hanging, five from external/multiple trauma, one from head injury, one from drugs, and one from other/multiple causes. The report excluded four cases due to missing data.

In November 2015 media reported that a New South Wales Auditor-General’s report found the state’s prisons held an average of 11,011 inmates a day, while there was capacity for only 9,829. In June the Queensland Corrective Services Minister said an increase in prisoner-on-prisoner assaults was “partly due to overcrowding in the state’s prison system.”

In July the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services in Western Australia released findings into its 2015 inspection of Hakea Prison. The acting inspector reported overcrowding resulted in violence within the prison and “inadequate appreciation of human rights,” particularly for pretrial detainees.

As of May 31, there were 1,254 persons in immigration detention facilities in the country, including 177 on Christmas Island. As part of the government’s Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB), a multi-agency initiative launched in 2013 aimed at preventing the arrival of asylum seekers by boat, the governments of Papua New Guinea and Nauru operated immigration detention centers on behalf of the Australian government where the respective host governments processed applications for intercepted asylum seekers. As of July 31, there were 411 asylum seekers on Nauru and 833 on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. On April 28, a 23-year-old Iranian male asylum seeker died in a Brisbane hospital after setting himself on fire at the Nauru detention center. On May 2, a Somali female asylum seeker set herself on fire at the Nauru detention center and authorities transferred her to a Brisbane hospital where she remained in a critical condition.

Administration: Authorities investigated allegations of inhuman conditions and documented the results of such investigations in a publicly accessible manner. The government investigated and monitored prison and detention center conditions.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted visits by independent human rights observers. There were no reports of intimidation by authorities. A number of domestic and international human rights groups expressed concerns about conditions at immigration detention centers (see section 2.d.).

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.

ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS

The armed forces, under the minister for defense, are responsible for external security. The Australian Federal Police (AFP)–under the minister for justice–and state and territorial police forces are responsible for internal security. The AFP enforces national laws, and state and territorial police forces enforce state and territorial laws. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Border Force are responsible for migration and border enforcement.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the armed forces and police, and the government had effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year.

ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES

Police officers may seek an arrest warrant from a magistrate when a suspect cannot be located or fails to appear, but they also may arrest a person without a warrant if there are reasonable grounds to believe the person committed an offense. Police must inform arrested persons immediately of their legal rights and the grounds for their arrest, and must bring arrested persons before a magistrate for a bail hearing at the next session of the court. The law permits police to hold individuals in preventive detention without charge for up to 48 hours under federal law and up to 14 days under state and territory laws if a senior police official finds it is “reasonably necessary to prevent a terrorist act or preserve evidence of such an act.” Police may detain individuals for an additional 24 hours under court order.

The law states that 24 hours is the maximum investigation period police may hold and question a person without charge, unless extended by court order. In the case of a terrorism suspect, however, police may detain a person for up to seven continuous days and police can question the suspect for a maximum period of 24 hours, or 48 hours if an interpreter is needed.

A separate provision of law permits the attorney general to grant the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) authority to detain a person for a continuous period of up to 168 hours (seven days) in special circumstances, such as “reasonable grounds for believing that issuing the warrant to be requested will substantially assist the collection of intelligence that is important in relation to a terrorism offense.” The ASIO, however, reportedly has not used this authority.

The law permits a judge to authorize “control orders” on persons suspected of involvement with terrorism-related activities. These orders may include a range of measures, such as monitoring of suspects and house arrest, and may be in effect for up to one year without filing criminal charges. Authorities can renew a control order after one year with a new court order. In February police arrested a Sydney man for accessing terrorist propaganda videos in violation of his control order stemming from a previous arrest in August 2014 at Sydney Airport for allegedly seeking to fight for the Islamic State. In June the court denied him bail.

By law the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor helps provide that counterterrorism laws strike an appropriate balance between protecting the community and protecting human rights. The AFP, the Australian Crime Commission, and intelligence agencies are subject to parliamentary oversight. The inspector-general of intelligence and security is an independent statutory officer who provides oversight of the country’s six intelligence agencies.

Bail generally is available to persons facing criminal charges unless authorities consider the person a flight risk or the charges carrying a penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment or more. Authorities granted attorneys and families prompt access to detainees. Government-provided attorneys are available to give legal advice to detainees who cannot afford counsel. Arrested persons enjoy additional legal protections, such as the ability to challenge the lawfulness of their detention and to apply for compensation if unlawfully detained.

Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: Persons arrested or detained, regardless of whether on criminal or other grounds, are entitled to challenge in court the legal basis or arbitrary nature of their detention and obtain prompt release and compensation if found to have been unlawfully detained.

Protracted Detention of Rejected Asylum Seekers or Stateless Persons: A small number of asylum seekers remained in long-term detention despite having exhausted the appeal process. Authorities could not return them to their home country because they lacked travel documents or could not obtain necessary transit visas.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government respected judicial independence.

TRIAL PROCEDURES

The law provides for the right to a fair public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. In state district and county courts, and in state and territorial supreme courts, a judge and jury try serious offenses. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and cannot be compelled to testify or confess guilt. They have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges, with free interpretation as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals, the right to an attorney, and adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. Government-funded attorneys are available to low-income persons. The defendant’s attorney can question witnesses, present witnesses and evidence, access relevant government-held evidence, and appeal the court’s decision or the sentence imposed.

POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES

There is an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters, and individuals or organizations may seek civil judicial remedies for human rights violations. There is also an administrative process at the state and federal levels to seek redress for alleged wrongs by government departments. Administrative tribunals may review a government decision only if the decision is in a category specified under a law, regulation, or other legislative instrument as subject to a tribunal’s review.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law prohibits such actions, and there were no reports the government failed to respect these prohibitions. Police have authority to enter premises without a warrant in emergency circumstances.

Brazil

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports the federal government or its agents committed politically motivated killings, but unlawful killings by state police occurred. In some cases police employed indiscriminate force. The extent of the problem was difficult to determine, as comprehensive, reliable statistics on unlawful police killings were not available. Official statistics showed police killed numerous civilians (lawfully or unlawfully) in encounters each year. For instance, the Rio de Janeiro Public Security Institute, a state government entity, reported that from January to July, police killed 473 civilians in “acts of resistance” (similar to resisting arrest) in Rio de Janeiro State. Most of the deaths occurred while police were conducting operations against drug-trafficking gangs in the city of Rio de Janeiro’s approximately 760 favelas (poor neighborhoods or shantytowns), where an estimated 1.4 million persons lived. A disproportionate number of the victims were Afro-Brazilians under age 25. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Rio de Janeiro questioned whether all of the victims actually resisted arrest, contending police continued to employ repressive methods. In April police conducted an operation in Acari, a favela in the city of Rio de Janeiro, that resulted in the deaths of five civilians. Official reports showed the casualties took place during an intense shootout, but residents of the community claimed police summarily executed the victims. Residents also reported problems of excessive use of force by police during the operation. As of November the case was under investigation. A report by the NGO Amnesty International, A Legacy of Violence–Killings by Police and Repression of Protests at Rio 2016, noted violent police operations took place throughout the Olympic Games (August 5-21) in several poor communities of Rio de Janeiro, resulting in the deaths of at least eight persons. On August 11, a 19-year-old man was killed during a joint operation involving civil and military police agents, the army, and the National Security Force in the favela of Complexo da Mare. On the same day, police officers from the Riot Police Unit killed two children ages 14 and 15 and a man age 22 in the Bandeira 2 favela, in the neighborhood of Del Castilho. On August 15, officers from the Pacification Police Unit killed a man in the favela of Cantagalo, in Ipanema. The next day civil police killed three men during an operation in the favela of Complexo da Mare.

In February, nine officers from the Bahia state military police Special Patrolling Group were implicated in the killing of 12 young Afro-Brazilians in Cabula, a neighborhood in the state capital of Salvador. Police and autopsy reports indicated the victims were unarmed and offered no resistance. Nevertheless, in July, Judge Marivalda Almeida Moutinho acquitted the nine of all charges, ruling the officers acted in self-defense.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The constitution prohibits such treatment and provides severe legal penalties for conviction of its use. There were, nevertheless, cases of degrading treatment such as those documented by Juan Mendez, UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, who visited the country in August 2015 and published his findings in January. Credible testimony from inmates–women, men, girls, and boys chosen at random in various detention facilities–pointed to the frequent use of torture and mistreatment, varying in methods and the severity of the pain and suffering inflicted. The incidents occurred during arrest and interrogation by police and also while inmates were in the custody of prison personnel. The inmates reported police and prison personnel engaged in severe kicking, beating (sometimes with sticks and truncheons), and suffocation. Inmates also reported police and prison personnel used Taser guns, pepper spray, tear gas, noise bombs, and rubber bullets, as well as profuse verbal abuse and threats.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Conditions in many prisons were poor and sometimes life threatening mainly due to overcrowding. Abuse by prison guards, including sexual abuse, continued at many facilities, and poor working conditions and low pay for prison guards encouraged corruption.

Physical Conditions: Endemic overcrowding was a problem. According to the Ministry of Justice and Citizenship, as of November the prison population was 711,463 prisoners (including house arrests); the official capacity of the prison system was 376,669 prisoners. According to the Catholic Church’s Penitentiary Commission, in some states women were occasionally held with men, although in separate cells. Prisoners who committed petty crimes frequently were held with murderers and other violent criminals. Authorities attempted to hold pretrial detainees separately from convicted prisoners, but lack of space often required holding convicted criminals in pretrial detention facilities. Many prisons, including in the Federal District, attempted to separate violent offenders from nonviolent ones and to keep convicted drug traffickers in a wing apart from the rest of the prison population. Multiple sources reported adolescents were jailed with adults in poor and crowded conditions. In many juvenile detention centers, the number of inmates greatly exceeded capacity.

Violence was rampant in several prison facilities in the Northeast. In addition to overcrowding, poor administration of the prison system, the presence of gangs, and corruption contributed to violence within the penitentiary system. In July criminal organizations organized prison riots and violent acts throughout prison facilities in the state of Rio Grande do Norte after the state government announced it would install cell-phone jammers at prison facilities. Authorities deployed more than 1,000 army troops after 107 prisoners escaped and burned several public buses. In October prison clashes between rival gangs killed at least 18 inmates in two penitentiaries in the states of Roraima and Rondonia, according to press reports.

The press reported on multiple riots and escapes in the Curado prison complex in the state of Pernambuco. In June judges from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights visited the Curado prison (previously named the Anibal Bruno prison) in relation to a case brought against the state of Pernambuco regarding alleged human rights violations. As part of the Inter-American Court case, Human Rights Watch and other NGOs cited inadequate sanitary conditions. HIV and tuberculosis rates in prisons were far higher than rates for the general population. The prevalence of tuberculosis in Pernambuco’s prisons was reportedly 37 times that of the general population.

Administration: Prisoners and detainees had access to visitors; however, human rights observers reported some visitors complained of screening procedures that at times included invasive and unsanitary physical exams. State-level ombudsman offices and the federal Secretariat of Human Rights monitored prison and detention center conditions and investigated credible allegations of inhuman conditions.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations, and Organization of American States.

Improvements: In the Pedrinhas complex in the state of Maranhao, authorities reduced the level of violence by incarcerating rival gang leaders in separate facilities and professionalizing the prison guards, converting them from private contractors to public employees.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention and limits arrests to those caught in the act of committing a crime or arrested by order of a judicial authority; however, police at times did not respect this prohibition.

ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS

The federal police force, operating under the Ministry of Justice and Citizenship, is a small, primarily investigative entity and plays a minor role in routine law enforcement. Most police forces are under the control of the states. There are two distinct units within the state police forces: the civil police, which performs an investigative role, and the military police, which is charged with maintaining law and order. Despite its name, the military police does not report to the Ministry of Defense. The law mandates that special police courts exercise jurisdiction over state military police except those charged with “willful crimes against life,” primarily homicide. Police often were responsible for investigating charges of torture and excessive force carried out by fellow officers, although independent investigations increased. Delays in the special military police courts allowed many cases to expire due to statutes of limitations.

Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over security forces, and the government has mechanisms in place to investigate and punish abuse and corruption; however, impunity and a lack of accountability for security forces remained a problem.

In Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, so-called militia groups composed of off-duty and former law enforcement officers often took policing into their own hands. Many militia groups intimidated residents and conducted illegal activities such as extorting protection money and providing pirated utility services.

According to the Rio de Janeiro State Secretariat for Public Security, human rights courses were a mandatory component of training for entry-level military police officers. Officers for the state’s favela pacification program (UPP) received additional human rights training. During the year the military police in Rio de Janeiro provided human rights training to 120 UPP officers.

ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES

Unless a suspect is caught in the act of committing a crime, an arrest cannot be made without a warrant issued by a judicial official. Officials must advise suspects of their rights at the time of arrest or before taking them into custody for interrogation. The law prohibits use of force during an arrest unless the suspect attempts to escape or resists arrest. According to human rights observers, some detainees complained of physical abuse while being taken into police custody.

Authorities generally respected the constitutional right to a prompt judicial determination of the legality of detention. Detainees were informed promptly of the charges against them. The law permits provisional detention for up to five days under specified conditions during an investigation, but a judge may extend this period. A judge may also order temporary detention for an additional five days for processing. Preventive detention for an initial period of 15 days is permitted if police suspect a detainee may leave the area. The law does not provide for a maximum period for pretrial detention, which is decided on a case-by-case basis. If detainees are convicted, time in detention before trial is subtracted from their sentences. Defendants arrested in the act of committing a crime must be charged within 30 days of arrest. Other defendants must be charged within 45 days, although this period may be extended. Often the period for charging defendants had to be extended because of court backlogs. Bail was available for most crimes, and defendants facing charges for all but the most serious crimes have the right to a bail hearing. Prison authorities generally allowed detainees prompt access to a lawyer. Indigent detainees have the right to a lawyer provided by the state. Detainees also were allowed prompt access to family members.

Pretrial Detention: According to the National Council of Justice, prisons held approximately 250,000 persons in preventive detention.

Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: Persons arrested or detained may challenge in court the legal basis for their detention and obtain prompt release and compensation if found to have ben unlawfully detained.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence. Local NGOs, however, cited that corruption within the judiciary, especially at the local and state levels, remained a concern.

TRIAL PROCEDURES

The constitution provides for the right to a fair public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right, although NGOs reported that in some rural regions–especially in cases involving land rights activists–police, prosecutors, and the judiciary were perceived to be more susceptible to external influences, including fear of reprisals. Investigations, prosecutions, and trials in these cases often were delayed.

After an arrest a judge reviews the case, determines whether it should proceed, and assigns the case to a state prosecutor, who decides whether to issue an indictment. Juries hear cases involving capital crimes; judges try those accused of lesser crimes. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have the right to be present at their trial, to be promptly informed of charges, not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt, to have access to government-held evidence and confront and question adverse witnesses, to present their own witnesses and evidence, and to appeal verdicts. The law extends these rights to all defendants. Defendants generally had adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense but did not have the right to free interpretation.

Although the law requires trials be held within a set time, there were millions of backlogged cases at state, federal, and appellate courts, and courts often took many years to be concluded. To reduce the backlog, state and federal courts frequently dismissed old cases without a hearing. While the law provides for the right to counsel, the Ministry of Justice and Citizenship stated many prisoners could not afford an attorney. The court must furnish a public defender or private attorney at public expense in such cases, but staffing deficits persisted in all states.

POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES

Citizens may submit lawsuits before the courts for human rights violations. While the justice system provides for an independent civil judiciary, courts were burdened with backlogs and sometimes subject to corruption, political influence, and indirect intimidation. Cases involving violations of an individual’s human rights may be submitted through petitions by individuals or organizations to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which in turn may submit the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

PROPERTY RESTITUTION

The law requires proportionate and timely restitution or compensation for governmental takings of private property. Rio de Janeiro NGOs nevertheless reported squatters’ rights were not always respected when Rio de Janeiro municipal authorities relocated residents as part of efforts to improve urban mobility and safety in conjunction with the city’s Olympic preparations. According to local NGOs, authorities used eminent domain-type laws to relocate approximately 20,000 families, most of whom lacked a legal title to the properties they occupied. Activists and residents argued many of these removals were unnecessary and were carried out mainly to increase property values. Removals in Vila Autodromo, adjacent to the Olympic Park, were cited as examples of such removals. Some residents reported being pressured to accept inadequate compensation for their property.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

Although the law and constitution prohibit such actions, NGOs reported police occasionally conducted searches without warrants. Human rights groups, other NGOs, and media reported incidents of excessive police searches in poor neighborhoods. During these operations police stopped and questioned persons and searched cars, residences, and business establishments without warrants.

Canada

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

There were no significant reports regarding prison or detention center conditions that raised human rights concerns.

Physical Conditions: According to the governmental statistical agency’s most recent figures, in 2014-15 there were on average approximately 39,625 inmates, pretrial detainees, and remand prisoners in federal and provincial correctional institutions, which had an official capacity of 38,771. The remand population exceeded the sentenced population. The national double-bunking rate (the practice of confining two inmates in a cell designed for one) in federal facilities was 19 percent in 2013-14.

The federal correctional investigator’s report for 2014-15 identified recourse to “administrative segregation” or solitary confinement by federal correctional services to manage crowded institutions and high-needs inmates as a concern. The correctional investigator, an independent prison ombudsman, urged authorities to cap the time inmates spend in segregation and to develop a policy framework to guide the use of segregation, including prohibiting the use of long-term segregation (beyond 15 days) for inmates with mental disabilities. Correctional Services Canada reported that the number of federal inmates held in solitary confinement for 120 days or more fell from 498 to 247 (a 51 percent drop) from March 2015 to March 2016, in part due to diversion of inmates with mental disabilities to treatment programs as an alternative to segregation.

In May the Ontario ombudsman recommended the government end the practice of extended solitary confinement in provincial prisons. The ombudsman’s report also recommended prison personnel receive training on the mental health effects of long-term solitary confinement and legislated maximums for periods of solitary confinement.

In October the Ontario provincial government transferred an indigenous prisoner out of solitary confinement after he spent more than 1,500 consecutive days in a cell under continuous artificial light for 23 hours each day while awaiting trial. Ontario’s Human Rights Commissioner flagged this case to prison authorities who then moved the man to a different cell. In October the Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services announced a 15- day limit on the number of consecutive days inmates can be held in solitary confinement (down from the present 30-day guideline), effective immediately. The minister also announced that each detention facility would establish segregation committees that would meet weekly and review the cases of prisoners in solitary confinement. The minister said jails should use solitary confinement as a measure of last resort under the least restrictive conditions available and ordered an independent review of policies and practices in Ontario jails. Advocates for prisoners said the changes were insufficient.

The Correctional Investigator’s Office reported 10 nonnatural deaths (including suicide) in federal custody in 2014-15, the latest available figures.

In July the government of New Brunswick announced it would advise the public when a prisoner dies but would not publish details on the inmate’s death. The change came after media reported 13 persons had died in New Brunswick prisons since 2004, but the coroner reviewed only four of the deaths.

In August the families of two female inmates who died in a Nova Scotia prison filed suit against the federal government for wrongful death. The families alleged prison authorities were negligent in addressing mental health needs of the inmates, both of whom committed suicide in 2015 after stints in solitary confinement.

Administration: Independent authorities investigated credible allegations of inhuman behavior and documented the results of such investigations in a publicly accessible manner.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted visits by independent nongovernmental human rights observers.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.

ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS

National, provincial, and municipal police forces maintain internal security. The armed forces are responsible for external security but in exceptional cases may exercise some domestic security responsibility at the formal request of civilian provincial authorities. The federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reports to the Department of Public Safety, and the armed forces report to the Department of National Defense. Provincial and municipal police report to their respective provincial authorities. The Canada Border Services Agency reports to the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and is responsible for enforcing immigration law. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the RCMP and provincial and municipal police forces, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year. Authorities investigated and publicly reported all fatalities that resulted from police action or in police custody.

ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES

Authorities generally apprehended persons openly with warrants. A judge can issue a warrant after being satisfied a criminal offense might have been committed. A person arrested for a criminal offense has the right to a prompt, independent judicial determination of the legality of the detention. Authorities respected this right in practice. Authorities provided detainees with timely information of the reason for the arrest and ensured prompt access to a lawyer of the detainee’s choice or, if the detainee was indigent, a lawyer provided by the state without restriction. Bail generally was available. Suspects were not detained incommunicado or held under house arrest.

Judges may issue preemptive peace bonds and apprehend individuals who authorities reasonably believe may carry out terrorist activities. Judges may also issue recognizances to detain persons and impose bail conditions if authorities deem the restrictions likely to prevent terrorist activity. Authorities may hold persons under preventive detention under recognizance for up to seven days, subject to periodic judicial review. Restrictions may include limits on travel and surrender of passports. Use of peace bonds and recognizance for counterterrorism purposes is subject to annual reporting requirements to the federal parliament.

Pretrial Detention: Authorities released detainees immediately after they were charged, unless a judge deemed continued detention necessary to ensure the detainee’s attendance in court, for the protection or safety of the public, or due to the gravity of the offense. Persons subject to continued detention have the right to judicial review of their status at regular intervals.

The government may detain or deport noncitizens on national security grounds with an immigration security certificate. The government issues certificates based on confidential evidence presented to two cabinet ministers by intelligence or police agencies and reviewed by a federal court judge who determines “reasonableness” and upholds or revokes the certificate. A judge may order an individual detained during the security certificate determination process if the government believes the individual presents a danger to national security or is unlikely to appear at the proceeding for removal. The judge may impose conditions on release into the community, including monitoring. Individuals subject to a security certificate may see a summary of confidential evidence against them. Authorities must provide full disclosure to court-appointed, security-cleared lawyers (special advocates), who can review and challenge the evidence on behalf of these individuals but not share or discuss the material with them. The law establishes strict rules on the disclosure and use of secret evidence, prohibits the use of evidence if there are reasonable grounds to believe authorities obtained the evidence as a result of torture, and provides mechanisms for review and appeal.

Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: Persons arrested or detained are entitled to challenge in court the validity of the detention and to obtain prompt release and compensation if the detention is found to be unlawful.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence.

TRIAL PROCEDURES

The law provides for the right to a fair public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Trials are held without undue delay before a judge alone or, for more serious cases, before a judge and jury. Defendants have the right to be present at trial and to consult with an attorney of their choice in a timely manner. The government provides an attorney at public expense if needed when defendants face serious criminal charges, and defendants may confront or question witnesses against them and present witnesses and evidence on their behalf. Defendants and their attorneys generally have access to government-held evidence relevant to their cases and adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. Defendants also enjoy a presumption of innocence, a right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them (with free interpretation as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals), a right not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt, and a right of appeal. The law extends these rights to all citizens.

POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES

There is an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters and access to a court to bring a suit seeking damages for, or cessation of, a human rights violation. Remedies can be monetary, declaratory, or injunctive. Federal or provincial human rights commissions may also hear alleged human rights violations. Individuals may also bring human rights complaints to the UN or the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Germany

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

On December 19, Anis Amri allegedly killed Polish truck driver Lukasz Robert Urban and drove Urban’s truck at high speed through a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz in Berlin. The apparent terrorist attack killed 12 persons and injured 56. Amri fled and was killed in a shootout with police in Milan, Italy, on December 23.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The constitution prohibits such practices, and there were few reports that government officials employed them.

In the reports on its 2010 and 2013 visits to the country, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) criticized the use of voluntary surgical castration as a means of treatment of incarcerated sex offenders, stating that it was a mutilating, irreversible intervention whose application to incarcerated sex offenders “could be considered as amounting to degrading treatment.” The CPT recommended that all relevant federal and state authorities take steps to put a definitive end to its use. In a letter dated May 13, authorities informed the CPT no surgical castrations were performed on incarcerated sex offenders from 2013 to 2015.

In June, two police officers from Essen were cleared of charges of excessive use of force stemming from an April operation against drug dealers.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison and detention center conditions generally met international standards.

Physical Conditions: On May 4, an 18-year-old inmate at the Wuppertal-Ronsdorf Correctional Facility killed a 20-year-old man after a card game. The perpetrator had a history of violence.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers. A delegation from the CPT visited the country in 2015. As of year’s end, the CPT’s report had not been released.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.

ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS

Responsibility for internal and border security is shared by the police forces of the 16 states and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Federal Police. The states’ police forces report to their respective interior ministries; the federal police forces report to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (FOPC) and the state offices for the protection of the constitution (OPCs) are responsible for gathering intelligence on threats to domestic order and certain other security functions. Like police, the OPCs report to their respective state ministries of the interior. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over police and the OPCs, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year. The nongovernmental organization (NGO) Amnesty International Germany stated that there is no nationwide requirement for police to wear identity badges. According to the NGO, police are required to wear badges in Berlin and Brandenburg, as are riot police in Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, Bremen, and Schleswig-Holstein.

In September 2015 Cologne’s police chief dissolved the city’s special forces unit and suspended 15 of its members while the city’s prosecutor’s office investigated abusive initiation practices and the misuse of a police helicopter to take private photographs. During the year the prosecutor’s office closed these investigations due to a lack of evidence, and the new Cologne police chief allowed all the officers involved to return to their previous assignments.

ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES

Authorities may arrest an individual only with a warrant issued by a competent judicial authority unless police apprehend a suspect in the act of committing a crime or have strong reason to believe that the individual intends to commit a crime. The constitution provides that authorities must produce an apprehended person before a judge no later than the day after the suspect was taken into custody. At that time the judge must inform the suspect of the reasons for the detention and provide the suspect an opportunity to object. The court must then either issue an arrest warrant stating the grounds for detention or order the individual’s release. Authorities generally respected these rights.

Bail exists, but authorities granted it infrequently. Judges usually released individuals awaiting trial without requiring bail, except in cases where a court decided there was a clear risk that the individual might flee. In such cases authorities may hold detainees for the duration of the investigation and subsequent trial, subject to judicial review. Time spent in investigative custody applies toward any eventual sentence. If a court acquits an incarcerated defendant, the government must compensate the defendant for financial losses as well as for “moral prejudice” due to the incarceration.

The law entitles a detainee to prompt access to an attorney at any time, including prior to any police questioning. According to the law, before interrogations begin authorities must inform suspects, arrested or not, of their right to consult an attorney.

In December 2015 an administrative court in Cologne ruled illegal the involuntary strip-searches of detainees by police for contraband. This decision stemmed from a complaint from a woman arrested and involuntarily strip-searched in 2013.

The law does not allow courts to punish persons twice for the same crime. A court may, however, order an offender convicted of rape, homicide, or manslaughter to spend additional time in “subsequent preventive detention” after completing the offender’s sentence, if it determines that the offender suffers from a mental disorder or represents a continuing serious danger to the public. The law permits the imposition of such detention for an indefinite period, subject to periodic reviews.

Because the law does not regard such detention as punishment, authorities are legally required to keep subsequent prevention detainees in separate buildings or in special prison sections with better conditions than those of the general prison population. Authorities must also provide a range of social and psychological therapy programs. According to the Federal Statistics Office, at the end of March 524 offenders, including one woman, were being held in subsequent preventive detention.

Detainees Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before Court: A detainee has the right to appeal his or her detention at any point of the sentence. The regional court of appeal decides whether to grant the appeal. It must hear the detainee and other persons involved unless it is firmly convinced that this will lead to no new findings. If the court of appeal holds that detention is to be continued, the detainee has a further right to appeal to the Federal High Court.

Protracted Detention of Rejected Asylum Seekers or Stateless Persons: Authorities in various states continued the practice of detaining rejected asylum seekers awaiting deportation, sometimes for protracted periods.

In 2014 the Federal Court of Justice ruled that authorities may detain asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants awaiting deportation to a country within the EU under Dublin procedures only if there was evidence they might abscond. Court rulings required authorities to move unsuccessful asylum seekers awaiting deportation from prisons to separate, special facilities with less strict security measures. As of October 2015, only five states had separate facilities, although some states shared facilities. Authorities may return asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants who are from safe countries of origin or who are not eligible for asylum without giving prior notice.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence.

TRIAL PROCEDURES

The constitution provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them, with free interpretation as necessary. The trial shall be fair, public, and held without undue delay. The law requires that defendants be present at their trials. A single judge, a panel of professional judges, or a mixed panel of professional and nonprofessional judges may try a case, depending on the severity of the charges. Defendants have the right to consult with an attorney, and the government provides an attorney at public expense if defendants demonstrate financial need. Defendants and their attorneys have the right to adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. They have access to all court-held evidence relevant to their cases. Defendants may confront and question adverse witnesses and present witnesses and evidence on their behalf. Defendants may not be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Defendants have a right of appeal. These rights extend to all citizens.

POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES

Citizens may file complaints about violations of their human rights with petition committees and commissioners for citizens’ affairs. Citizens usually referred to these points of contact as “ombudsmen.” Additionally, an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters provides court access for lawsuits seeking damages for, or cessation of, a human rights violation. Persons who exhaust domestic legal remedies may appeal cases involving alleged government violations of the European Convention on Human Rights to the European Court of Human Rights.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

The federal and state OPCs continued to monitor political groupings deemed potentially hostile to the constitution, including the Left Party and the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party (NPD). Authorities stated they employed monitoring as a last resort but only with approval of state or federal interior ministries and review by state or federal parliamentary intelligence committees. Authorities indicated they monitored the Left Party, which had seats in the Bundestag, because of their perception that it tolerated left-extremist groups within its ranks.

All OPC activities are challengeable in court, including ultimately in the Federal Constitutional Court. In 2014 following a Constitutional Court ruling, the government indicated that the FOPC would no longer observe Bundestag members.

In an August 30 report, the UN special rapporteur for privacy noted that “the democratic oversight of intelligence services in the country remains a cause for concern.” Echoing the concerns of the commissioner for human rights of the Council of Europe in his report in October 2015, the special rapporteur noted that the oversight bodies in the country lacked resources and technical expertise. He also stated there is no judicial review over the agencies’ activities.

Mexico

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were many reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, often with impunity. Organized criminal groups also were implicated in numerous killings, often acting with impunity and at times in league with corrupt state, local, and security officials. The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) reported 27 complaints for “deprivation of life” between January and November.

On August 2, authorities arrested Juan Carlos Arreygue, the mayor of the municipality of Alvaro Obregon, and four police officers, including a commander, in connection with the killing of 10 persons detained by police on July 29. According to news reports, Alvaro Obregon police under instructions from the mayor, detained the civilians and executed them, later burning their bodies. The criminal investigation into the case continued at year’s end.

In April a federal court charged the commander of the 97th Infantry Battalion and three other military officers for the July 2015 illegal detention and extrajudicial killing of seven suspected members of an organized criminal group in Calera, Zacatecas. No trial date had been set at year’s end.

On August 18, the CNDH released a report that accused federal police of executing 22 persons after a gunfight in May 2015 near Tanhuato, Michoacan, and of tampering with evidence. The CNDH report concluded that two of the men killed were tortured and 13 were killed after they had been detained. One police officer was killed in the incident. National Security Commissioner Renato Sales Heredia claimed the officers acted in self-defense. In response to the CNDH report, President Enrique Pena Nieto removed Federal Police Chief Enrique Galindo from his position to allow for “an agile and transparent investigation.” No federal police agents were charged, and the federal investigation continued at year’s end.

Authorities made no additional arrests in connection with the January 2015 killing of 10 individuals and illegal detentions and injury to a number of citizens in Apatzingan, Michoacan.

In May a civilian federal judge acquitted and dismissed all charges against the remaining members of the military with pending charges in relation to the 2014 killings of 22 suspected criminals in Tlatlaya, State of Mexico. The court ruled that the evidence was insufficient to convict. In April the press reported that in October 2015 the Sixth Military Court dropped the charges against six soldiers and convicted one soldier, sentencing him to time served. In a report released in October 2015 before the verdicts, the CNDH determined that authorities arbitrarily deprived at least 12 to 15 of the civilians of life and tortured some of the witnesses. In July authorities of the State of Mexico declared they intended to fire nine state-level investigators from the General Prosecutor’s Office and suspend 21 others for misconduct related to the case. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) expressed concerns regarding the lack of convictions in the case and the perceived failure to investigate the chain of command.

Former military corporal, Juan Ortiz Bermudez, appealed his 2015 conviction to 18 years’ imprisonment for intentional homicide in the 2010 killing of two unarmed civilians in Nuevo Leon. Authorities had not scheduled a hearing at year’s end.

Criminal organizations carried out human rights abuses and widespread killings throughout the country. For example, from July 9 to 15, criminal gangs executed several families in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas in what media reported as a war among drug-trafficking organizations. Criminals also targeted mayors (at least six killed this year) and other public officials. From 2006 to the middle of the year, 82 mayors were killed in the country.

News reports and NGO sources noted that from January 2015 to August, authorities discovered more than 724 bodies in several hundred clandestine graves throughout the country, the majority of killings were suspected to have been carried out by criminal organizations.

b. Disappearance

Federal law prohibits forced disappearances, but laws relating to forced disappearances vary widely across the 32 states and not all classify “forced disappearance” as distinct from murder or kidnapping. Investigation, prosecution, and sentencing for the crime of disappearance remained rare. The CNDH reported to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that as of October 2015, authorities opened 95 investigations at the state level for forced disappearances in nine states, resulting in four indictments but no convictions.

There were many reports of forced disappearances by security forces. There were numerous cases of disappearances related to organized criminal groups. In its data collection, the government often merged disappeared persons with missing persons, making it difficult to compile accurate statistics on the extent of the problem.

The CNDH registered 16 cases of alleged forced disappearances through the end of October.

The Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) revamped its Special Unit for Disappeared Persons in 2015, establishing expanded authorities and transferring 846 open cases from the predecessor PGR unit. The unit employed approximately 30 prosecutors and, as of May, was investigating the cases of 1,050 missing or disappeared persons. In June the attorney general appointed a prosecutor to lead the unit.

Authorities arrested 13 persons, including eight state police officers; they faced charges for the January 11 disappearance of five youths from Tierra Blanca, Veracruz. On February 8, federal authorities located the remains of two of the youths on a property reportedly used by drug traffickers after one officer admitted to the abduction and transfer of the youths to a local criminal gang. Several containers found there contained human remains estimated to belong to hundreds of victims killed over a period of several years.

On April 28, a 17-year-old boy disappeared in the state of Veracruz, with the alleged participation of the Veracruz state police called “Fuerza Civil.” International NGOs reported that the boy’s mother had difficulty filing the disappearance report with the state attorney general’s office.

On November 10, the IACHR launched the follow-up mechanism agreed to by the government, the IACHR, and the families of the 43 students who disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero, in 2014. The government provided funding for the mechanism that follows up the work of the group of independent experts who supported the investigation of the disappearances and assisted the families of the victims from March 2015 to April 30. At the end of their mandate in April, the experts released a final report strongly critical of the government’s handling of the case.

According to information provided by the PGR in November, authorities had indicted 168 individuals and arrested 128, including 73 police officers from Cocula and Iguala and 55 alleged members of the Guerrero-based drug trafficking organization, Guerreros Unidos. Representatives of civil society organizations and the IACHR-affiliated experts noted that authorities held many of those arrested on charges such as participation in a criminal organization but not on involvement in the students’ disappearances. A CNDH report implicated federal police and local police officers from nearby Huitzuco. In October authorities arrested the former police chief of Iguala, who had been in hiding since the 2014 disappearances. Both federal and state authorities continued at year’s end to investigate the case, including the whereabouts of the missing students or their remains.

Kidnappings remained a serious problem for persons at all socioeconomic levels, and there were credible reports of instances of police involvement in kidnappings for ransom, often at the state and local level. The government’s statistics agency (INEGI) estimated that 94 percent of crimes were either unreported or not investigated and that underreporting for kidnapping may be even higher.

Coahuila state authorities issued arrest warrants in June for 15 individuals–10 of whom were former police–for forced disappearances in the border state of Coahuila. According to state authorities, from 2009 to 2012, the Zetas transnational criminal organization, allegedly in collusion with local police, carried out mass disappearances in the border towns of Piedras Negras, Allende, and Nava. Elements of the organization allegedly killed some of the victims and disposed of their remains in Piedras Negras’ state prison.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits such practices and stipulates confessions obtained through illicit means are not admissible as evidence in court, but there were reports that government officials employed them.

There is no national registry of torture cases, and a lack of data on torture cases at the state level.

As of October 31, the CNDH registered 206 complaints of alleged torture and 451 cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. NGOs stated that in some cases the CNDH misclassified torture as inhuman or degrading treatment.

News reports indicated that the PGR was examining 4,000 cases of torture in the first nine months of the year. The reports indicated that judges issued 14 arrest warrants for torture, including five arrest warrants for army and federal police members.

In June a report by Amnesty International accused security officials of using sexual and other types of torture to secure confessions from women.

On April 14, a video was posted on social media showing a woman being tortured by two soldiers and members of the Federal Police in an incident that took place in February 2015 in Ajuchitlan del Progreso, state of Guerrero. The secretary of defense, General Salvador Cienfuegos, made an unprecedented public apology. National Security Commissioner Renato Sales also offered a public apology. In January authorities detained two of the soldiers allegedly implicated, and they faced civilian charges of torture as well as military charges of disobeying orders. Authorities suspended members of the Federal Police for their involvement.

On January 20, a federal court in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua sentenced army Colonel Elfego Jose Lujan Ruiz (the former commander of the 35th Infantry Battalion in Nuevo Casas Grandes) to 33 years in prison for the 2009 torture, homicide, and clandestine burial of two men. Authorities also sentenced five other convicted former soldiers of the 35th Infantry Battalion; three to 33 years in prison for the same crimes and two to 39 months in prison for torture.

In April authorities sentenced army General Manuel Moreno Avina to 52 years’ imprisonment for the torture, homicide, and destruction of human remains of a man in Chihuahua in 2008. The federal judge also ordered the Ministry of Defense (SEDENA) to offer a public apology and accept responsibility for killing the man. Media reported that, as of October 31, authorities sentenced 21 soldiers who were under Moreno’s command on charges related to torture, homicide, drug trafficking, and other crimes.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Conditions in prisons and detention centers were often harsh and life threatening due to corruption, overcrowding, prisoner abuse, alcohol and drug addiction, and lack of security and control.

Civil society groups reported abuses of migrants in some detention centers.

Physical Conditions: In a report published during the year, the IACHR noted that federal and state detention centers suffered from “uncontrolled self-government in aspects such as security and access to basic services, violence among inmates, lack of medical attention, a lack of real opportunities for social reintegration, a lack of differentiated attention for groups of special concern, abuse by prison staff, and lack of effective grievance mechanisms.”

There were numerous cases of corruption in the penitentiary system, including allegations of high-level corruption related to the July 2015 escape of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. The IACHR reported that 200 of the 388 penitentiary centers in the country were overcrowded. News reports indicated that Hidalgo State had the most overcrowded prisons and identified the district jail in Tepeaca, Puebla, as the most overcrowded (329 inmates in a jail designed for 49); 239 of the prisoners were awaiting their sentences. In April the CNDH reported that overcrowding in prisons was the main factor in lack of social rehabilitation. Health and sanitary conditions were poor, and most prisons did not offer psychiatric care. Some prisons often were staffed with poorly trained, underpaid, and corrupt correctional officers, and authorities occasionally placed prisoners in solitary confinement indefinitely. Prisoners often had to bribe guards to acquire food, medicine, and other necessities. In some cases prisoners reportedly had to pay a fee to be permitted to visit with family members. Authorities held pretrial detainees together with convicted criminals. The CNDH noted a lack of access to adequate health care was a significant problem. Food quality and quantity, heating, ventilation, and lighting varied by facility, with internationally accredited prisons generally having the highest standards.

The CNDH reported conditions for female prisoners, particularly for women who lived with their children in prison, were inferior to those for men, due to a lack of appropriate living facilities and specialized medical care. There were reports women who lived with their children in prison did not receive extra food or assistance.

The CNDH reported 52 homicides and 23 suicides in state and district prisons in 2015. The CNDH noted in its 2015 report on prisons that 86 prisons did not have a suicide prevention system. On February 11, 49 inmates were killed in the deadliest prison riot in history at the Nuevo Leon state prison of Topo Chico. In June, three prisoners were killed and 14 injured in another riot at the same prison. A senior Nuevo Leon state official cited poor prison conditions and a lack of funding as primary contributing factors for continued violence at the prison.

Administration: At some state prisons, recordkeeping remained inadequate. While prisoners and detainees could file complaints regarding human rights violations, access to justice was inconsistent, and authorities generally did not publicly release the results of investigations.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted independent monitoring of prison conditions by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the CNDH, and state human rights commissions. Independent monitors were generally limited to making recommendations to authorities to improve prison conditions.

Improvements: In June a new law allowed women to have full custody of their children while in prison until the children reached three years of age.

On June 16, the National Criminal Enforcement Act went into effect, which defines the guiding principles of the prison system to be dignity, equality, legality, due process, transparency, confidentiality, and social reinsertion. The law points out that women require different accommodations than men and identifies the important role community contact plays in successful social reintegration.

Both federal and state facilities sought international accreditation from the American Correctional Association, which requires demonstrated compliance with a variety of international standards. As of September 1, 12 additional correctional facilities achieved association accreditation, bringing the total number of accredited facilities to 42.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, but the government often failed to observe these prohibitions.

ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS

The federal police, as well as state and municipal police, have primary responsibility for law enforcement and the maintenance of order. The federal police are under the authority of the interior minister and the National Security Committee, state police are under the authority of each of the 32 governors, and municipal police are under the authority of local mayors. SEDENA, which oversees the army and air force, and the Ministry of the Navy (SEMAR), which oversees the navy and marines, also play a role in domestic security, particularly in combatting organized criminal groups. The National Migration Institute (INM), under the authority of the Interior Ministry (SEGOB), is the administrative body responsible for enforcing migration laws and protecting migrants. The INM’s 5,400 agents worked at ports of entry, checkpoints, and detention centers, conducting migrant apprehension operations in coordination with the federal police.

The law requires military institutions to transfer all cases involving civilian victims, including human rights cases, to the civilian justice system under the jurisdiction of the PGR. If the victim is a member of the military, alleged perpetrators remain subject to the military justice system. SEDENA, SEMAR, the federal police, and the PGR have security protocols for the transfer of detainees, chain of custody, and use of force. The protocols, designed to reduce the time arrestees remain in military custody, outline specific procedures for handling detainees.

According to the Office of the Attorney General of Military Justice, as of April 18, the military had transferred to the civilian Attorney General’s Office prosecutorial jurisdiction for more than 1,273 military personnel accused of human rights violations in 558 criminal cases, 257 homicide cases, 229 torture cases, and 72 forced disappearance cases. As of June SEDENA reported there were no cases before military courts that involved a civilian victim.

Although civilian authorities maintained effective control over security forces and police, impunity, especially for human rights abuses, remained a serious problem. The country had extremely low rates of prosecution, and prosecutions could take years to complete.

There were new developments in the 2006 San Salvador Atenco confrontation between local vendors and state and federal police agents in Mexico State during which two individuals were killed and more than 47 women were taken into custody with many allegedly sexually tortured by police officials. In 2009 an appeals court acquitted the only individual previously convicted in the case, and in September the Inter-American Court of Human Rights agreed to hear the case, but no date has been set.

By law elected officials enjoy immunity from prosecution, including for corruption, while they hold a public office, although state and federal legislatures have the authority to waive an elected official’s immunity.

SEDENA’s General Directorate for Human Rights investigates military personnel for violations of human rights identified by the CNDH and is responsible for promoting a culture of respect for human rights within the institution. The directorate, however, has no power to prosecute allegations or to take independent judicial action.

In May the code of military justice was reformed to establish procedures for the conduct of military oral trials, in accordance with the transition to an adversarial justice system. On June 15, the CNDH published and submitted to the Supreme Court a “Report of Unconstitutionality” in which it claimed aspects of the recently revised code of military justice and military code of criminal procedures (military code or CMPP) violated constitutional guarantees, including against unreasonable searches and seizures. The CNDH based its claims on provisions of the military code that allow military prosecutors to request permission from civilian prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office to intercept communications and search premises during the investigation of military personnel for ties to organized crime, murder, and weapons violations. The CNDH criticized the ability of a military judge to call a civilian to testify in military court, the requirement that authorities must conduct all procedural acts in Spanish, and the expanded roles given to the Military Ministerial Police (the top-level investigative entity of the military).

In February, SEMAR expanded its human rights program to include a weeklong course (from the previous one-day course), an intensive program for commanding officers, and a human rights diploma program, among others.

ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES

The constitution allows any person to arrest another if the crime is committed in his or her presence. A warrant for arrest is not required if an official has direct evidence regarding a person’s involvement in a crime, such as having witnessed the commission of a crime. Bail exists, except for persons held in connection with drug trafficking or other forms of organized crime. In most cases the law provides for detainees to appear before a judge, and for authorities to provide sufficient evidence to justify continued detention, within 48 hours of arrest, but there were violations of the 48-hour provision. In cases involving three or more parties to a conspiracy to commit certain crimes, authorities may hold suspects for up to 96 hours before being presented to a judge.

Only the federal judicial system may prosecute cases involving organized crime. Under a procedure known in Spanish as “arraigo” (a constitutionally permitted form of detention, employed during the investigative phase of a criminal case before probable cause is fully established), certain suspects may, with a judge’s approval, be detained for up to 80 days prior to the filing of formal charges. Human rights NGOs claimed arraigo allowed some corrupt officials to extort detainees, detain someone, and then seek reasons to justify the detention, or obtain confessions using torture. In the absence of formal charges, persons detained under arraigo are often denied legal representation and are not eligible to receive credit for time served if convicted.

Some detainees complained about lack of access to family members and to counsel after police held persons incommunicado for several days and made arrests arbitrarily without a warrant. Police occasionally provided impoverished detainees counsel only during trials and not during arrests or investigations as provided for by law. Authorities held some detainees under house arrest.

Arbitrary Arrest: Allegations of arbitrary detentions persisted throughout the year. The IACHR, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and NGOs expressed concerns regarding arbitrary detention and the potential for arbitrary detention leading to other human rights abuses.

Pretrial Detention: Lengthy pretrial detention was a problem. According to an IACHR report, SEGOB figures as of August 2015 noted that 107,441 of 254,469 individuals detained were in pretrial detention. According to an international NGO, more than 40 percent of prisoners were awaiting their trial at the end of 2015. The law provides time limits within which authorities must try an accused person. Authorities generally disregarded time limits on pretrial detention since caseloads far exceeded the capacity of the federal judicial system.

Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: Persons who are arrested or detained, whether on criminal or other grounds, may challenge their detention through the Juicio de Amparo. The defense may argue, among other things, that the accused did not receive proper due process; suffered a human rights abuse; or that authorities infringed upon basic constitutional rights. By law individuals should obtain prompt release and compensation if found to be unlawfully detained, but the authorities did not always promptly release those unlawfully detained.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

Although the constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, court decisions were susceptible to improper influence by both private and public entities, particularly at the state and local level. Authorities sometimes failed to respect court orders, and at the state and local levels, arrest warrants were sometimes ignored.

TRIAL PROCEDURES

As of June the civilian and military courts officially transitioned from an inquisitorial legal system based primarily upon judicial review of written documents to an accusatory trial system reliant upon oral testimony presented in open court. While observers expected the new system would take several years to implement fully, the federal government and all of the states began to adopt it. In some states implementing the accusatory system, alternative justice centers employed mechanisms such as mediation, negotiation, and restorative justice to resolve minor offenses outside the court system.

Under the new system, all hearings and trials are conducted by a judge and follow the principles of public access and cross-examination. Defendants have the right to a presumption of innocence and to a fair and public trial without undue delay. Defendants have the right to attend the hearings and to challenge the evidence or testimony presented. Defendants have access to government-held evidence, although the law allows the government to keep elements of an investigation confidential until the presentation of evidence in court. Defendants may not be compelled to testify or confess guilt. The law also provides for the rights of appeal and of bail in many categories of crimes.

The law provides defendants with the right to an attorney of their choice at all stages of criminal proceedings. Attorneys are required to meet legal qualifications to represent a defendant. Not all public defenders had preparation and training to serve adequately on the defendants’ behalf, and often the state public defender system was not adequate to meet demand. Public defender services functioned either in the judicial or executive branch. According to the Center for Economic Research and Economic Teaching (CIDE), most criminal suspects did not receive representation until after they came under judicial authority, thus making individuals vulnerable to coercion to sign false statements prior to appearing before a judge.

Although required by law, interpretation and translation services from Spanish to indigenous languages at all stages of the criminal process were not always available. Indigenous defendants who did not speak Spanish sometimes were unaware of the status of their cases and were convicted without fully understanding the documents they were allegedly required to sign.

POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees. On August 13, authorities released antilogging activist Ildefonso Zamora from prison after a court dropped burglary charges against him. Human rights NGOs had criticized his 2015 arrest as politically motivated due to his antilogging activism.

CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES

Citizens have access to an independent judiciary in civil matters to seek civil remedies for human rights violations. For a plaintiff to secure damages against a defendant, authorities first must find the defendant guilty in a criminal case, a significant barrier in view of the relatively low number of convictions for civil rights offenses.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law prohibits such practices and requires search warrants. There were some complaints of illegal searches or illegal destruction of private property.

United Kingdom

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison and detention center conditions generally met international standards but nevertheless had serious problems. On September 24, an article in The Economist characterized conditions as “grim and getting worse.”

Physical ConditionsThe Economist stated buildings were “crumbling, infested with rats and cockroaches.” It reported prisons held 11 percent more detainees than they could “decently accommodate” by the government’s own standards.

The Annual Report 2015-16 of Her Majesty’s (HM) Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales released on July 19 stated there were more than 20,000 assaults in English and Welsh prisons in 2015, an increase of 27 percent over 2014. Citing data from the Home Office, The Economist reported 646 serious assaults on staff and 2,328 serious assaults on other prisoners during the year for a total of 2,974 or a 31 percent increase. Between April 2015 and March 2016, the chief inspector reported six apparent homicides. During the same period, there were 100 suicides, a 27 percent increase, of which two were transgender women held in men’s prisons. There were more than 32,000 incidents of self-harm in 2015, an increase of 25 percent.

Four of the five young offender institutions the chief inspector visited were “not sufficiently good in the area of safety.” Children were locked in their cells for too much of the day and got too little fresh air and exercise, according to the report.

The Official Annual Report of the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman for England and Wales for the period 2015-16 released in September stated there were 304 deaths in custody, an increase of 21 percent from the preceding year. Twelve of these deaths were in “approved premises” (halfway houses), up from eight in the preceding year; three deaths were in immigration removal facilities, up from two in the previous year. There were 172 deaths from natural causes; the ombudsman explained the increase because of the rising number of older prisoners. The prison service also noted six as apparent homicides; a further 23 deaths were classified as “other non-natural,” which the ombudsman noted were “usually drug related,” and of these, 12 awaited further classification.

An important contributing factor to the problems of safety in prisons is the use of synthetic drugs, especially cannabinoids such as “spice” and “black mamba.” The Economist reported drones flew drugs through broken windows in Pentonville prison in London.

Scottish Prison Service figures showed 24 deaths in prisons in Scotland in 2015, the same number as 2014. Of those 24, 20 were still to be determined following the conclusion of fatal accident inquiries. The other deaths were a result of natural causes.

In Northern Ireland women did not have a separate facility from juveniles. According to the Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland’s annual report for 2015-16, the ombudsman began investigations into two deaths (one fewer than in 2015). One of the deaths appeared to be a suicide, and the other death was due to natural causes.

Following a critical official report in 2015 that deemed the Maghaberry prison County Antrim, Northern Ireland, which housed 1,000 prisoners, as “unsafe and unstable,” subsequent investigations indicated the situation stabilized, and authorities partially achieved recommendations to improve the situation. In November investigations began into the death of a 44-year-old man at the prison. It was at least the fourth death since the 2015 report.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers. Every prison, immigration removal center, and some short-term holding facilities at airports have an independent monitoring board. Each board’s members are independent, and their role is to monitor day-to-day life in their local facility and to ensure proper standards of care and decency are maintained. Members have unrestricted access to their local prison or immigration detention center at any time and can talk to any prisoner or detainee they wish, out of sight and hearing of staff, if necessary.

For two weeks beginning on March 30, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visited places of detention in England. At year’s end the report of the visit was not yet published.

In August 2015 the Scottish Prison Service announced a new independent monitoring system of Scotland’s prisons would begin to assess the conditions and treatment levels for prisoners. Approximately 150 volunteers were trained as prison inspectors. By August almost 900 visits had been carried out.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government observed these prohibitions.

A report published in January by the Scottish Police Authority showed an 81 percent decline in stop-and-search actions by the Scottish police force, Police Scotland, from June 2015 to August 2016 (22,787), compared with the corresponding period in 2014 (119,940).

In Bermuda the number of stop-and-search actions “in anticipation of violence” numbered approximately 425 in the first half of the year. This represented a continuing significant decrease from a high of approximately 6,500 in the second quarter of 2011, when gang violence was at its height. Civil rights groups stated the law unfairly targeted blacks.

ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS

Except in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the national police maintained internal security and reported to the Home Office. The army, under the authority of the Ministry of Defense, is responsible for external security and supports police in extreme cases. The National Crime Agency (NCA) investigates many serious crimes in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and it has a mandate to deal with organized, economic, and cybercrimes as well as border policing and child protection. The NCA director general has independent operational direction and control over the NCA’s activities and is accountable to the home secretary.

By law authorities must refer to the Independent Police Complaints Commission all deaths and serious injuries during or following police contact, including road traffic fatalities involving police, fatal police shootings, deaths in or following police custody, apparent suicides following police custody, and other deaths where the actions or inaction of police may have contributed.

Scotland’s judicial, legal, and law enforcement system is fully separate from that of the rest of the UK. Police Scotland reports to the Scottish justice minister and the state prosecutor. Police Scotland reports cross-border crime and threat information to the national UK police and responds to UK police needs in Scotland upon request.

Northern Ireland also maintains a separate police force, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The PSNI reports to the Northern Ireland Policing Board, a nondepartmental public body composed of members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and independent members of the community. Northern Ireland’s minister of justice appoints the board.

In Bermuda the Bermuda Police Service (BPS) is responsible for internal security. The BPS reports to the governor appointed by the UK but is funded by the elected government of Bermuda.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year.

Coroner’s inquests investigated deaths related to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The Historical Enquiries Team was closed and replaced by the Legacy Investigations Branch located in the PSNI. The 2014 Stormont House Agreement and the Fresh Start Agreement of 2015 provide for the creation of legacy bodies to deal with the past, which would include establishment of a Historical Investigations Unit. At year’s end these institutions had not yet been established.

ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES

Police in the UK must have a warrant issued by a magistrate or a judge to arrest a person, unless there is reasonable suspicion a person has just committed or is about to commit a crime. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, a senior police official must authorize detention without charges for more than 24 hours, and a magistrate must authorize detention for more than 36 hours up to a maximum 96 hours. Police may detain terrorism suspects without charge for up to 14 days. Police must inform detainees promptly of charges against them, and this right was respected.

In the UK there is a functioning bail system, and defendants awaiting trial have the right to bail, except for those judged to be flight risks, likely to commit another offense, suspected terrorists, or in other limited circumstances.

If questioned at a police station in the UK, all suspects have the right to legal representation, including counsel provided by the government if they are indigent. Police may not question suspects who request legal advice until a lawyer is present. Detainees may make telephone calls. The maximum length of pretrial detention is 182 days. The court may extend the detention in exceptional cases. Suspects were not held incommunicado or under house arrest. Authorities generally respected these rights.

In Gibraltar the CPT found that, while the right of access to a lawyer is adequately enshrined in law in Gibraltar, a lawyer was only accessible at the detainee’s own expense.

The inspectorate of prisons in England and Wales reported “inadequate and, in some cases, nonexistent monitoring of the use of force” in detention centers and expressed concerns that some applications of force were not reasonable or proportionate.

In Scotland police may detain a subject for no more than 24 hours. After an initial detention period of 12 hours, a police custody officer may authorize further detention for an additional 12 hours without authorization from the court, if the officer believes it necessary. Only a judge can issue a warrant for arrest if he or she believes there is enough evidence against a suspect. A detainee must be informed immediately of allegations against him or her and be advised promptly of the charges if there is sufficient evidence to proceed. Police may not detain a person more than once for the same offense. Depending on the nature of the crime, a suspect should be released from custody if the detainee is deemed not to present a risk. If police consider it important that the case be heard at court quickly, the suspect may be released on an “undertaking”–a promise to attend court when told to. Suspects perceived to be a risk to the public can be held in custody until the next court day. There is a functioning bail system.

In Bermuda a person must usually be arrested with a warrant issued by a court. The law permits arrests without warrant in certain conditions. No arrests or detentions can be made arbitrarily or secretly. The detainee must be told the reason for his arrest immediately upon being arrested. Detainees may be held for 42 hours for investigation, but detention should be reviewed at specified intervals of initially six hours, then every 12 hours, until 42 hours are reached. For serious crimes a senior police officer may authorize additional detention of up to 72 hours before charges are filed. Crimes with firearms automatically allow detention up to 72 hours and have special provisions under the law to detain without charge for two weeks, followed by an additional two-week period with the approval of the Supreme Court.

There is a functioning system of bail in Bermuda. A detainee has the immediate right of access to a lawyer, either through a personal meeting or by telephone. Free legal advice is provided for detainees. A detainee who wishes to have another lawyer can have one at his own expense. Police may interview without a lawyer in exceptional circumstances which must be authorized, such as to save life or to find a kidnapping victim. Police must inform the arrestee of his rights to communication with a friend, family member, or other person identified by the detainee. The police superintendent may authorize incommunicado detention for serious crimes such as terrorism. House arrest does not legally exist but may be a condition of bail.

Formal complaints about arrests in Bermuda can be made to an independent criminal compensation board, the police complaints authority, the Human Rights Commission, or a court.

Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: All citizens in the UK have a right to habeas corpus; in Northern Ireland they apply via Northern Ireland’s devolved judicial system. In Scotland the right to habeas corpus is protected by law.

Protracted Detention of Rejected Asylum Seekers or Stateless Persons: See section 2.d.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government respected judicial independence.

TRIAL PROCEDURES

The law provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary routinely enforced this right. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence, and the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges, with free interpretation as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals. Criminal proceedings must be held without undue delay and be open to the public except for cases in juvenile court or those involving public decency or security. Defendants have the right to be present at their trial. In a trial under the Official Secrets Act, the judge may order the court closed, but sentencing must be public.

Defendants have the right to communicate with an attorney of choice, or to have one provided at public expense, except in cases before employment tribunals that may unintentionally overlap with undiscovered discrimination cases. Defendants and their lawyers have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense and have access to government-held evidence relevant to their cases, with some exceptions, such as instances in which information pertaining to a suspect relates to national security. Defendants have the right to confront witnesses against them, present witnesses and evidence, and not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Defendants have the right to appeal adverse verdicts.

The law extends the above rights to all defendants.

In Bermuda the Disclosure and Criminal Reform Act 2015 passed early in 2016 requires a defendant to declare to the prosecutor and the court within 28 days of his arraignment whether he intends to give evidence at his trial. Failure to do so permits the court to direct the jury to draw inferences in deciding whether the accused is guilty of the offense charged. During the year the Bermudian Supreme Court heard one case where a defense statement was required and was duly supplied.

POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES

In the UK individuals, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and groups of individuals may seek civil remedies for human rights violations and have the right to appeal to the European Court for Human Rights decisions involving alleged violations by the government of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In Bermuda the Human Rights Tribunal adjudicates complaints.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions. In a memorandum dated May 17, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner stated that 65 laws cover the interception of communications, a framework he called “extremely complicated.”

Human Rights Reports
Edit Your Custom Report

01 / Select A Year

02 / Select Sections

03 / Select Countries You can add more than one country or area.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future