The Excessive Use of Force by Mexico City Law Enforcement Agencies: Corruption, Normal Abuse and Other Motives

Carlos Silva Forné

Abstract

Although several factors have been cited to explain the excessive use of police force, its relation to corruption has yet been little explored. This is a serious omission when dealing with law enforcement agencies in which corrupt practices are both widespread and deeply ingrained, as is the case in Mexico City. On the basis of an analysis of 575 complaints regarding violations of detainees’ right to physical integrity received by the Mexico City Human Rights Commission between 2007 and 2011, many troubling patterns involving the use of excessive police force emerge, including: deeply-rooted and historicallyconditioned ways of policing; a form of moral retribution or “punishment” for individuals who resist arrest or challenge authority; poor disciplinary oversight; and lack of professional training (and competence) in resolving conflicts. Above all, the use of excessive force by Mexico City law enforcement agencies is linked to divergent forms of corruption, including extortion, crimes and the misuse of police authority to resolve private matters, among others. In order to address these problems, it is first necessary to recognize their diverse nature and their complex relation to disciplinary structures, accountability and culture.

Keywords

Excessive Use of Force; Corruption; Human Rights Violations; Motivations

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