Study documenting torture in Mexican institutions used in immigration case

An Omak woman being held at Tacoma, Washington’s Northwest Detention Center is citing dangerous conditions at Mexican institutions as a legal defense in her deportation proceedings.

The woman, who has bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety, is facing the likelihood of being deported to Mexico after being arrested on drug trafficking and theft charges, according to an article in the Tacoma News Tribune. She is arguing she would likely face persecution and torture if she returned to the country, citing a November 2010 report from Disability Rights International and the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights documenting abuses in Mexican institutions.

“Within institutions, investigators identify a broad range of atrocious conditions and life-threatening forms of mistreatment,” according to Disability Rights International, describing the results of the year long investigation. “Investigators found: people with disabilities left permanently in restraints, some of whom were tied into beds and wheelchairs; the use of lobotomies (psychosurgery) without consent; people detained for a lifetime in locked facilities simply because they have a disability; and filthy and inhumane living conditions.”

Lobotomy, the surgical separation of the prefrontal cortex from the rest of the brain, fell out of favor internationally in the 1950s because it frequently causes irreversible brain damage, but remains legal in Mexico, according to an article in The New York Times.

After a similar report was released in 2000, Mexico vowed to overhaul its systems for supporting people with disabilities and was a leader in the creation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006.

The woman, married with three children, has lived in the U.S. since she was five years old.