Mexico president says thousands of federal prisoners to be freed under new decree

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addresses to the nation on his second anniversary as the President of Mexico, at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday a new presidential decree would liberate thousands of federal prisoners in special circumstances, including torture victims.

The decree would free by Sept. 15 federal prisoners of any age who were accused of any crime if they had been victims of torture, Lopez Obrador said in a regular news conferences.

In addition, federal prisoners over age 75 who had not committed serious crimes, and prisoners over age 65 with chronic illnesses who had not committed serious crimes would also be liberated, Lopez Obrador said. Federal prisoners who have been behind bars for more than 10 years without a sentence, and who had not committed a serious crime, would be freed.

"It is important to take into account that there are many detainees, inmates who do not have a sentence, and that it is not only federal jurisdiction, it is also common jurisdiction," Lopez Obrador said.

Human rights organizations have criticized Mexico as utilizing torture as a way to obtain confessions from those accused of crimes.

The decree could have implications for high-profile cases, including the 2014 disappearance of 43 students in the southern state of Guerrero. Suspects linked to that crime have complained of torture.

Lopez Obrador said he would sign the decree next week.

There are about 94,547 people imprisoned without a sentence, according to Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero, with about 12,358 in the federal system.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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