Nationa: UN Special Rapporteur on torture ends official visit to Mexico

May 16, 2014


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Upon completing his visit of 12 days to the country, Juan E. Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishments, affirmed that torture is a “generalized phenomenon” in Mexico.  He recognized that the statistics on the prevalence of torture are on the decline, but he doubted that this in fact means that torture as practiced has similarly declined.  He located impunity and the regular use of torture as a “means of criminal investigation” as great problems in this sense.

In a press conference held on 2 May, Méndez presented the preliminary conclusions of his visit, stressing the numerous denunciations he received.  He also recognized progress on the question, for example on the use of military tribunals and a handful of the sentences handed down by the Supreme Court for Justice in the Nation (SCJN).  He expressed his worry for the continued militarization of various regions of the country, in addition to the persistent participation of military commanders in civilian security forces.

As part of his preliminary recommendations, Méndez proposed a decrease in the resort to the use of “community control,” comprehensive reparations by those affected by torture, expeditious investigations into presumed human-rights violations, the standardization of torture at the national level with international standards, and the regulation of the use of legitimate public force.

For more information (in Spanish):

La tortura está “generalizada” en México: ONU (entrevista CNN México, 2 de mayo de 2014)

Generalizada en México, la tortura como medio de investigación: relator de la ONU (La Jornada, 3 de mayo de 2014)

Para erradicar la tortura hay que suprimir la idea de que es normal: relator de la ONU (La Jornada, 4 de mayo de 2014)

Comunicado de organizaciones chiapanecas por visita del Relator Especial sobre la Tortura de la ONU (2 de mayo de 2014)

Presentarán a relator de la ONU 18 casos de tortura en Chiapas(Proceso, 28 de abril de 2014)

Informe sobre Tortura en Guerrero (Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan)

Tortura, “práctica terriblemente cotidiana en México”, acusan ONG ante relator de la ONU (Proceso, 22 de abril de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National: Special rapporteur on torture begins visit to Mexico (29 April 2014)

National: International organizations conclude observation mission on torture in Mexico (10 June 2013)

Mexico: UN Committee against Torture expresses grave concern for the practice of torture in Mexico (9 November 2012)

National: Amnesty International presents report regarding use of torture in Mexico (19 October 2012)


Chiapas: Civil organizations pronounce themselves on the conflict in the Puebla ejido 5 months after its beginning

November 12, 2013

Desplazadas de ejido Puebla. Foto @Sipaz

Five months following the beginning of the violent acts which resulted in the forced displacement of 98 persons from the Puebla ejido, 11 Mexican civil-society organizations have published a pronunciation which indicates the tepid intervention from the state government regarding the investigation and judicial intervention in the case, in light of the 3 penal denunciations that have to date been submitted by those affected the violent acts.  These persons still remain wardens of the state justice system.

“Impunity leads to the chronic repetition of human-rights violations and the total lack of defense of the victims and their relatives.  All of this must be resisted by all the media which can do so,” notes the declaration.

In this sense, the organizations signing this declaration have formulated a series of demands which include the immediate cessation of violence and protection for residents suffering from harassment in the Puebla ejido, in addition to the creation of conditions favorable to the guaranteed return of displaced families, the investigation of the acts, the delineation of responsibilities regarding the aggressions and human-rights violations committed, and penal action against those who are responsible.

For more information (in Spanish):

Pronunciamiento: Impunidad ante desplazamiento forzado de 98 personas del ejido Puebla (CDH Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, 17 de octubre de 2013)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Solidarity requested for those displaced from the Puebla Colony (16 September 2013)

Chiapas: After attempting to return, the displaced of the Puebla Colony transfer themselves to Acteal (13 September 2013)

Chiapas: Increase in violence in Puebla Colony, Chenalho (4 August 2013)

Chiapas: Las Abejas Civil Society, “the government is using two weapons in its strategy, lead bullets and sugar bullets” (25 June 2013)


Mexico: AI demands that the Secretary of Governance takes on its task of guaranteeing security and human rights following the restructuring of the State

January 15, 2013

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In a press-bulletin, Amnesty International (AI) requested that the Secretary of Governance take on its obligation to guarantee security and human rights following the restructuring of the public administration on 3 January, the day when the Secretary for Public Security (SSP) was eliminated, having been integrated into the Secretary of Governance, including the management of the federal police.  AI recalls that “during the six-year term of former president Felipe Calderón, the SSP took on a protagonistic role in the strategy against organized crime, one that has left more than 60,000 dead and thousands others disappeared.  The use of torture and abuse as well as arbitrary arrests was routine on the part of the security forces during that period.”

Amnesty International observed that it “considers that the conduct of exhaustive and impartial investigations into the thousands of murders and disappearances which occurred in recent years should be a priority, not only to guarantee access to justice for the families of the victims, but also so as to determine the cases in which there was participation or material aid on the part of agents of the State.  Without truth, justice, and transparency, it will not be possible to restore confidence from Mexican society in the justice system and the security forces.”

For more information (in Spanish):

AI exige a Gobernación respetar los derechos humanos y garantizar la seguridad (La Jornada, 8 de diciembre de 2012)

AI confía en el nuevo sistema de seguridad mexicano (El Universal, 7 de enero de 2013)

Llamado a la Secretaría de Gobernación para asumir su deber de garantizar seguridad y derechos humanos (AI, 7 de enero de 2013

La Gendarmería Nacional bajo la lupa de los derechos humanos Director del área de defensa de la Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos El Universal, Blog, 7 de diciembre de 2013)


Chiapas: Acteal, Site of Conscience, Impunity and the Other Justice

January 4, 2010

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“We took our case before the highest court in the nation, (…) but all we encountered there was supreme impunity.”

On Dec. 22, 1997, 300 people prayed for peace when 45 of them were massacred by paramilitaries, a result of the low intensity warfare that the government implemented against the zapatista rebels and their sympathizers.

Twelve years later, this “State crime” which has been denounced by General J.F. Gallardo, continues in impunity. None of the planners of the massacre were found guilty and this year several of those who carried out the massacre were released. Denied justice and an official history, the Abejas Civil Society (La Sociedad Civil Las Abejas) held the Forum of Conscience and Hope, Building the Other Justice… (Foro de Conciencia y Esperanza, Construyendo la Otra Justicia…) on Dec. 21, 2009. The Other Justice (A grassroots alternative to the official justice system)is that which remains in the historic memory of the people. The Other Justice does not seek punishment but rather repentance and reconciliation as was stated by the president of the Abejas. “The conscience is a very strong force in the construction of the other justice,” he said, “we have to begin with our own conscience,” “continue with the conscience of the people in general,” and “Finally, although it is the most difficult, (…) to touch the conscience of the aggressors.” As a result, the following day Acteal was declared a “Site of the Conscience of Humanity,” according to the banner hung above the entrance to the site “for inspiration for all of those that struggle for peace and an indelible memory for future generations.”

To make sure that the massacre at Acteal is never forgotten, on Dec. 21 the director of the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (CDH Frayba) read the names of each of the 45 victims aloud. On Dec. 22, the representative from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico defined the massacre as “the bloodiest event in Mexico’s recent history” and denounced: forgetfulness and impunity are not the response expected from a democratic State which respects human rights. The bishop of the San Cristobal de Las Cases diocese, who celebrated the commemorative mass on Dec. 22, stated in his homily “It is a mockery and shameful that due to minor legal issues, 29 individuals have been exonerated [after committing] this horrendous crime (La Jornada, 23/12/09).

In the presence of more than 600 peoples, a large number of priests and social organizations from Chiapas and other states, in addition to a strong presence of international solidarity, the Abejas shared their path, their pain and their hope through a small theatre production and a long declaration in which they reiterated their vindication not solely for justice, but for peace. “We don’t want a war that will cost the blood of millions of brothers and sisters. We want a new revolution, but not a violent one, so that we can have liberty, justice and peace and to take back the land from those who are plundering and destroying it.”

Listen to the Forum of Conscience and Hope, Building the Other Justice (in Spanish):

Ponencias del “Foro de Conciencia y Esperanza, Construyendo la Otra Justicia…”, 21 de diciembre de 2009 (blog de Las Abejas)

Programa de Radio con las conclusiones del encuentro (blog de Las Abejas)

For More Information:

Acteal: sembrando paz y esperanza (artículo de Milenio Online, 21/12/09)

Acteal, sitio de conciencia (Boletín 41 del Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, 22/12/09)

Acteal sitio de conciencia: un recordatorio de la impunidad en México (artículo de La Jornada, 22/12/09)

“Una burla”, el desenlace jurídico del caso Acteal: Arizmendi (artículo de La Jornada, 23/12/09)

Pide Alto Comisionado de ONU al Estado poner fin a impunidad en caso Acteal (artículo de La Jornada, 22/12/09)

Foro de Conciencia y Esperanza, la Otra Justicia (artículo de Indymedia Chiapas, 22/12/09)

Sites of Conscience webpage

For More Information from SIPAZ:

The Massacre at Acteal (SIPAZ documents)


Oaxaca: Meetings and Accusations

November 30, 2009

On November 13th and 14th the Oaxacan Collective for the Defense of the Land convened a Second National Forum entitled: “Weaving Resistance in Defense of Our Land.” The meeting took place in the Mixe community of San Juan Jaltepec de Candayoc, in the municipality of San Juan Cotzocon. The objectives were to “exchange experiences in defense of land, territory and natural resources of indigenous people and communities, and explore the possibilities of joining forces to create a common defense.”

The final declaration emphasized: “that the lack of recognition of the autonomy over our land and territory, the lack of legal mechanisms for defense, and the false mediation of agrarian requests has resulted in innumerable agrarian conflicts between communities… Today Chiapas and Oaxaca are examples of an experiment in megaprojects and public policies that have only generated conflict, internal division in communities, looting of land and the violation of our rights… From the hearts of our people we declare that our communities and indigenous people are in resistance. We won’t be defeated by this new neoliberal offensive stripping us of our land. We profoundly believe in the value of our collectivity, of exercising authority as a service, of the collective ownership of the earth and the rebuilding of our land as people, as institutions that give us strength.”

In light of these outstanding issues a communiqué denouncing the intimidation of the people of Paso de la Reina was circulated on November 19, a few days before the Forum. The previous day a mass had been held in support of their cause and was presided over by the Bishop of Puerto Escondido.

Before that, on November 18, the “Meeting for Justice and Against Impunity: Cases Before the Supreme Court of Mexico” was held in the city of Oaxaca. The goal of the event was to analyze the Supreme Court’s resolutions in the cases of Lydia Cacho, Atenco, Acteal and Oaxaca, and the implications for the social movement, victims of repression, and defenders of justice and human rights.

The final resolution underlined the fact that in all the cases presented there was a “prevalence of deep-rooted impunity” and pointed out that “Mexican administrative bodies and legal officials are quick and expeditious when it comes to punishing and reprimanding citizens who are defending their rights against government abuses, but they’re slow and inefficient when it comes to correcting an injustice, and are practically powerless when it comes to trying to apply justice to a higher official.”

For more information:

Declaración de Jaltepec, Foro la resistencia por la defensa de nuestros territorios (14 de noviembre)

Denuncia Paso de la Reina

Pronunciamiento final del Foro por la Justicia y contra la Impunidad

For more information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: Rechaza asamblea ejidal autorización a la CFE para construcción de presa en Paso de la Reina

Oaxaca: Foro Tejiendo Resistencias por la Defensa de Nuestros Territorios


Chiapas: The Viejo Velasco massacre three years later

November 18, 2009

Hundreds of Chol and Tzeltal indigenous people marched in the city of Palenque on November 13th to commemorate an attack against the people of Viejo Velasco Suarez three years ago. Four people died and four more disappeared when some Lancadon tried to evict the residents of Viejo Velasco from their land.

The same organizations that  to formed the Civil Observation Mission in Montes Azul at that time delivered a statement and denounced “the shameful acts committed by officers of the state and a paramilitary-style group of indigenous people, that resulted in the Viejo Velasco massacre”.

The statement was read in several indigenous languages during a religious service presided over by Father Geronimo “Xel” that revisited the events of that day when “close to 40 people in civilian clothing from the community of Nueva Palestina entered Viejo Velasco with a group of about 300 uniformed people carrying high caliber rifles, and proceeded to physically attack the indigenous people.”

The statement also documented the impunity in the case and stated: “Those of us who have been witnesses can testify to the inefficiency of the investigations carried out by the government of Chiapas, who haven’t provided an effective way to guarantee necessary legal protection to the massacre’s victims. The State Ministry of Justice has failed to carry out its work in a serious and effective manner with notorious procedural anomalies that have obstructed the right to access to justice, to the truth, to repair the damage, which leads us to believe in a possible cover-up to protect the material and intellectual perpetrators of the massacre.

For more information (in Spanish):

Pronunciamiento Público conjunto a 3 años de impunidad de la Masacre de Viejo Velasco, Selva Lacandona

More information from SIPAZ:

November 2006 : Confrontation in the borders of the Montes Azules Reservation leaves at least 4 dead (Urgent Action from SIPAZ, November 2006)

Enfrentamiento en los límites de la Reserva de Montes Azules deja un saldo de por lo menos 4 muertos. (Acción Urgente de SIPAZ, noviembre de 2006)


Chiapas: More prisoners released for Acteal Massacre. Abejas petition the IACHR

November 10, 2009

Abejas en la CIDH

On November 4, Mexico’s Supreme Court (SCJN, Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación) ordered the immediate release of nine people who had been accused and sentenced as perpetrators of the Acteal Massacre, in a vote of four to one. At the same time another 16 prisoners received protection under the law, among them two who had confessed to participating in the killing. This decision means the multi-judge court (Tribunal Colegiado) will have to make a new ruling in the case without using evidence thrown out by the SCJN, which according to the SCJN was illegally obtained by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR, Procuraduría General de la República). Now the accused will be judged only for the crimes of homicide and injury, not for the use of firearms used exclusively by the military. In their ruling, the SCJN also threw out six requests for legal protection in the same case.

At the same time the group Las Abejas (The Bees, Organización Sociedad Civil Las Abejas) as well as members of Human Rights Center Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas A.C. (Frayba) delivered evidence about the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washinton D.C. The two groups denounced “the impunity that the Mexican state has facilitated through the Supreme Court” and they asked the IACHR to draw attention to the case. The case had already been presented to the IACHR in February 2005 but had been on hold while waiting for internal legal appeals to run their course in Mexico. The result of those appeals has been the release of 29 people identified as responsible for the Acteal Massacre between August and November 2009.

Frayba also asked for the IACHR to “implement provisional measures to help the survivors of the Massacre as well as the leaders of Las Abejas in light of the imminent risk to their lives and personal safety due to possible retaliation and/or revenge by the recently released perpetrators of the Massacre, because paramilitary groups are in possession of firearms in the region.”

For more information:

For more information from SIPAZ:

Special Report on the Case of Acteal (August 30, 2009) – The Supreme Court (SCJN) Ruling: an irreproachable ruling judicially, a highly questioned decision based in the historical and actual context


Chiapas: Organizations and social movements descend on San Cristobal to call for justice

October 31, 2009

On Monday October 26th, 2009, the Cathedral Square in San Cristobal de Las Casas was the scene of much activity and mobilization as three organizations and social movements arrived in the center of town, one after another. The three groups – the “community of Faith (Pueblo Creyente)–Tzotzil Region, The Other Campaign, and the Emiliano Zapata Campesina Organization-Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC) – each had distinct demands that came down to the same basic message: there is no justice in Chiapas. Some demanded that “paramilitaries” charged in the Acteal Massacre remain in jail, while others asked for the release of social leaders who have been “arbitrarily detained.”

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The Community of Faith–Tzotzil Region had organized a “Pilgrimage for Peace and real Justice” in solidarity with the Acteal Abejas. Together they called on the Supreme Court of Mexico to refrain from freeing any more of the prisonners accused as material perpetrators of the Acteal massacre of 1997. Five hundred people from the Highlands of Chiapas participated. At the end of the pilgrimage, mass was celebrated in the Cathedral by the Bishop of San Cristobal, Father Enrique Diaz Diaz, along with parish priests from the area.

According to journalists’ sources the Supreme Court of Mexico is expected to make a decision in the cases of 31 prisoners in jail for their participation in the Acteal Massacre of December 22nd, 1997. The media has reported that some of the prisoners could be released for violations to their human rights during the court process, despite the fact that Abejas members have identified them as material perpetrators of the crime. If the prisoners are released, they would add to the 20 persons who were already released August 12th as a result of another Supreme Court decision.

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During the morning of October 26th about 200 Other Campaign followers – the majority indigenous – gathered at the San Cristobal bus terminal to begin a march into the city. They demanded the release of political prisoners, referring in particular to prisoners from the Front for the People in Defense of the Land (FPDT) in San Salvador Atenco (Estado de Mexico), the Civil Resistance Movement of non-payment for electric energy from Candelaria (Campeche), two tseltal members of the Other Campaign from San Sebastian Bachajon (Chiapas) and Alberto Patishtan, from the Voice of El Amate (Chiapas). The march, which was carried out as part of a national mobilization organized by the Other Campaign, came to an end in the Cathedral Square after the mass of the Community of Faith. Residents of the communities of San Sebastian Bachajon and Jotola, among others, also took the opportunity to speak to those gathered.

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While Other Campaign followers were still carrying out their meeting, 100 members of the Campesina Organization Emiliano Zapata – Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC) arrived at the Cathedral. They demanded the release of three of their “compañeros” who are presently jailed, as well as a stop to all harassment by the state government toward their organization. They announced the beginning of a sit-in in the Cathedral Square as a pressure tactic to resolve their demands, beginning October 26th for an indefinite period of time.

OCEZ said that ever since the arrest of one of their leaders, Jose Manuel Hernandez Martinez, on September 30th, the harassment in their communities has been relentless. At dawn on October 24th the Attorney General of State Justice (PGJE) arrested other members of their group: Roselio de la Cruz Gonzalez and Jose Manuel de la Torre Hernandez were arrested without being served arrest warrants. On October 25th a joint military and police search for drugs and firearms was carried out in Laguna Verde. Laguna Verde, along with neighbouring community 28 de Junio, are communities where members of OCEZ-RC live. Out of fear for their lives the residents had asked for the presence of human rights observers who were witnesses during the raid and concluded that no illicit objects were found.

For more information:

On the Pilgrimage of the Community of Faith and ‘Las Abejas’

Comunicado de Las Abejas de la conferencia de prensa del 22 de octubre 2009

La SCJN resolverá este miércoles sobre los recursos pendientes del caso Acteal (La Jornada 27/10/09)

Se manifiestan contra la SCJN… (Expreso de Chiapas 27/10/09)

On the Other Campaign March

ONG exigen la liberación de los presos políticos en el país (La Jornada (27/10/09)

On OCEZ-RC

Comunicado de la OCEZ-RC: En la madrugada detienen a dos miembros de la OCEZ Carranza la policía

Acción Urgente del Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas

Exige la OCEZ libertad para 3 de sus dirigentes (La Jornada 27/10/09)

For more information from SIPAZ

Journey of the “Community of faith”: Reflection and action on a changing reality (August 2009)

Special Report on the Case of Acteal (August 30, 2009) – The Supreme Court (SCJN) Ruling: an irreproachable ruling judicially, a highly questioned decision based in the historical and actual context

Chiapas: The Abejas Denounce the Harassment of the Chiapas Government (october 2009)

Chiapas: Prisoner forced to transfer to maximum-security prison in Tepic, Nayarit (october 2009)

Chiapas: OCEZ leader from the Venustiano Carranza Region captured(october 2009)




Oaxaca: NGOs present their diagnosis of human rights work

October 31, 2009

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On October 14th, several human rights organizations presented a report on the situation of human rights workers in Oaxaca. The document contained information compiled in 2008 and the first half of 2009, and highlighted that fact that human rights work is criminalized and subject to persecution.

 

The report called “A Diagnosis of the Situation of Human Rights Workers in Oaxaca” was released with a press communiqué that denounced “the increase in abuse against human rights workers registered by NGOs, with more frequent cases of intimidation and harassment, as well as an increase in more serious crimes like assault, threats to personal safety, illegal detentions, defamation, discrediting, legal persecution, and others, with the goal of preventing the work of human rights workers to defend and promote human rights and report infringements on those rights.”

 

Written by Peace Watch Switzerland, the report is based on interviews with 17 organizations working in the defense and promotion of human rights. The report covers subjects such as Impunity, Criminalization of Social Protest, Militarization, Rupture of the Social Fabric, Agricultural Conflict, the Defense of Natural Resources as well as the Electoral Process Leading to 2010. In addition, the report reveals the need for coordination between human rights organizations in order to create “a ‘Working Space for Human Rights Defenders’ where they can share intervention methods as well as monitor the pattern of attacks against human rights workers who promote, defend or organize to demand the validity of human rights.” So far this space is made up of the Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue A.C., Bartolome Carrasco Briseno Human Rights Center A.C., the Mexican Human Rights League A.C., Alternative Education Services A.C., the 25th of November Committee A.C., and the Miguel Agustin Pro Human Rights Center A.C.

For more information (in Spanish):


Oaxaca: Supreme Court decision in Oaxaca case

October 23, 2009

La Policía Federal Preventiva en la ciudad de Oaxaca en 2006 Fuente: www.dokumentarfoto.de

On October 14th the Supreme Court of Mexico (SCJN) made a decision regarding human rights violations by authorities during the Oaxaca conflict of 2006 and 2007. The decision finds the governor at the time, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, responsible for human rights violations.

With a vote of seven to four, the Supreme Court holds the Oaxacan governor responsible for human rights violations committed by state police during the conflict that lasted from May 2006 until June 2007. However, a proposal submitted by Ministers Juan N. Silva Meza, Jose de Jesus Gudino Pelayo and Jose Ramon Cossio was rejected. Their proposal sought to include Vicente Fox, then president of Mexico, as well as Minister of the Interior, Carlos Abascal and Public Security Minister, Eduardo Medina Mora in the list of those responsible for allowing an unmanageable situation that exposed the population to situations that put their human rights at risk. The Supreme Court Minister Jose Ramon Cossio said now it will be up to Felipe Calderon and the Mexican Congress to decide whether or not they will proceed with a political trial against the Oaxacan Governor.

Ruiz Ortiz said he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision, calling into question whether or not Fox should have been included. Members of the Popular Assembly for the People of Oaxaca (APPO), who had asked for Ruiz Ortiz’s resignation during the conflict, insisted on the Oaxacan governor’s responsibility for human rights violations. The Secretary of section 22 of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE) Gabriel Lopez Chinas, said the ex-secretary general Jorge Franco Vargas and the ex-public attorney Rosa Lizbeth Cana Cadeza should also be put to trial for being the operators “of unlimited repression against the Oaxacan people.” Section 22 of the SNTE – which brings together teachers from all over Oaxaca – suffered repression from the state government on June 14th, 2006. That repression resulted in the creation of the APPO, which integrated different social, political and indigenous organizations that confronted state authorities during the second half of 2006 to demand the resignation of the governor, whom they accused of suppressing social, political and indigenous organizations.

For more information:

More Information from SIPAZ:

THE SOCIO-POLITICAL SITUATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN OAXACA (August 2007) 



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