MEXICO CITY, Martinique, Aug. 29 (UPI) — Mexican law enforcement officials are taking to the TV airwaves, televising videotaped confessions that critics call suspect.
The Washington Post reports officials have resorted to the confessions — known as “the presentation” — more and more as a tactic to try to prove to skeptical viewers the suspects police arrest are guilty of crimes of which they are accused.
The confessions are often coerced, or suspects are duped or promised a break if they quickly confess, human rights advocates and defense lawyers say.
The Post noted surveys of prison inmates in three Mexican states, conducted by researcher Marcelo Bergman of the Center for Economic Research and Education in Mexico City, found half confessed because they were guilty while 35 percent said they did so because they were threatened or tortured.
“These kinds of declarations have absolutely no value in court,” said John Ackerman, a professor at the Institute for Legal Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Ackerman told the newspaper the confessions could bring better deals for the accused or help them avoid prosecution if they argue they were tortured or threatened.
“It’s all part of a deal. If you confess in public, we might cut you some slack. That’s the deal,” said Ackerman, also editor of the Mexican Law Review.
Whatever effect they have on cases, the confessions provide gripping television, the Post said.