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MEXICO: ARBITRARY DETENTION OF THE AMERICAN ANDREW ARMANDO CORDOVA

The International League Against Arbitrary Detention urges the Government of Mexico to take all the necessary actions to implement the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Opinion No. 1/2022 concerning Andrew Armando Córdova starting with his immediate release and providing him with full reparations.


Read the full WGAD Opinion concerning Andrew Armando Córdova (México): Opinion No. 1/2022


SUBJECTED TO PRE-TRIAL DETENTION FOR 14 YEARS AND DETAINED IN VIOLATION OF AN ORDER TO BE RELEASED


Mr. Andrew Armando Córdova is a national of the United States of America, with a habitual residence address in Tijuana, Baja California. At the time of his arrest he was 21 years old, and at the time of the WGAD Opinion he was 35. The Working Group noted that Mr. Córdova has been held in pretrial detention for 14 years, an unacceptable length of time and in absolute violation of applicable international standards, since it appeared that in the case at hand, pretrial detention has come to replace punishment.


Moreover, Mr. Andrew Armando Córdova had received an order to be released, which was never executed. The Working Group found that such a situation casts serious doubts on the independence and impartiality of the judges who have violated provisions of articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and that Mr. Córdova should have been released.


DETAINED IN VIOLATION OF HIS RIGHT TO THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE AND OF HIS RIGHT NOT BE COMPELLED TO CONFESS BY TORTURE


Given that Mr. Andrew Armando Córdova has been held for 14 years in pre-trial detention without any legal basis, his right to the presumption of innocence guaranteed by Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 14, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was blatantly violated. Moreover, Mr. Andrew Armando Córdova was held incommunicado for three days and interrogated without the presence of a defense attorney; the officers forced all the detainees to sign a series of documents with self-incriminating statements, including Mr. Córdova.


The Working Group concluded that Mr. Córdova was subjected to torture and ill-treatment, in contravention of the peremptory norm of international law establishing an absolute prohibition of torture, as well as in violation of article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and articles 2 and 16 of the Convention against Torture, to which Mexico is a party. This situation impeded Mr. Córdova's ability to participate in his own defense, which violated his right to equality of arms, recognized in Article 14, paragraph 1, of the Covenant. For all of the above reasons, the Working Group found that the detention of Mr. Córdova lacked a legal basis making it arbitrary and fell under category I.


DETAINED IN VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT TO A FAIR, INDEPENDENT AND IMPARTIAL TRIAL


The Working Group recalled that any form of detention or imprisonment must be ordered by - or be immediately subject to the effective control of - a judicial authority in accordance with the law, whose status and mandate must offer the greatest possible guarantees of competence, impartiality and independence. The Working Group noted that effective judicial control of the necessity and proportionality of detention has certainly not been guaranteed to Mr. Andrew Armando Córdova.


The Working Group also considered that the admission into evidence of a statement allegedly obtained through torture or ill-treatment places the entire proceeding in the category of unfair trial. The Working Group emphasized that the intentional imposition of pressure to obtain a confession violates articles 2, 13, 15 and 16 of the Convention against Torture.


The Working Group concluded that the Mexican authorities seriously disregarded international standards relating to the right to a fair, independent and impartial trial, in contravention of articles 9 to 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The above-mentioned violations of the right to a fair and impartial trial were of such gravity as to lead the Working Group to classify Mr Andrew Armando Córdova's detention as arbitrary under category III.


DETAINED IN VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT TO EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW


The Working Group noted that the situations experienced by Mr. Andrew Armando Córdova were demonstrative of actions of profound discrimination. The Working Group recalled that the obligation of States parties under article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights state that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law without discrimination. In this sense, the law must prohibit all discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any grounds, not limited only to respect for human rights, but also establishes the obligation of States to guarantee the enjoyment of these rights to all persons under their jurisdiction. The Working Group found that these guarantees have not been observed in the case of Mr Andrew Armando Córdova; therefore, the arbitrariness of his detention fell under category V.


CONCLUSIONS OF THE UNITED NATIONS WORKING GROUP AGAINST ARBITRARY DETENTION


In light of the foregoing, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that the detention of Mr. Andrew Armando Córdova is arbitrary and falls under categories I, III and V because the his deprivation of liberty violated Articles 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles 2, 7, 9, 10, 14 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommended that the Government of Mexico take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Mr. Andrew Armando Córdova without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms, providing Mr. Andrew Armando Córdova with full reparations, starting with his immediate release.




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