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Mexico doubles prison sentences for kidnapping

[JURIST] The Mexican government has published new sentencing guidelines that will double prison sentences for kidnapping crimes. This increases the minimum sentence for such crimes from 20 to 40 years, and the maximum from 50 to 140 years for those who kill their victims. Other factors that affect sentence length include injuring the victim, abduction of minors and if the convict is a current or former police officer or soldier. This legislation is the result of a drastic increase in the number of kidnappings over recent years. In 2007 approximately 440 kidnappings were reported to police. In 2013 that number had increased to 1,698, which was also up approximately 20 percent from 2012. However, government polls indicate that less than two percent of kidnappings are reported, which if true indicate that the true number of kidnappings in Mexico could be closer to 100,000 per year. The director of the group National Citizen Observatory, Francisco Rivas, stated that he believes increasing reporting, prosecution and conviction rates will help reduce such crimes [BBC report] more than increasing the sentences.

Last month Amnesty International (AI) released a report [JURIST report] summarizing attitudes towards torture throughout the world. Mexico showed the second highest concern for torture if arrested with 64 percent reporting they would fear being tortured if arrested. The problems extend to the army and navy personnel as well. In September of last year AI urged [JURIST report] Mexican lawmakers to reform their military justice system due to constant human rights violations by army and navy personnel. AI reported that the number of enforced disappearances in the nation had increased drastically since the federal government launched a military initiative to interrupt organized crime cells in 2006.

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